Get a good start to your career

Embarking on a career journey can be simultaneously exhilarating and daunting. Having gained one year of valuable work experience, I've acquired numerous new insights and skills. I'm eager to share my five key pieces of advice with you. While they may appear self-evident at first glance, they hold significant importance in navigating a career path, whether one aspires to a leadership role or a specialized position.

1. Take up space

It is important to assert yourself in the workplace so that your thoughts and ideas are heard. Taking up space in the workplace is advantageous for both you and your colleagues. However, when you are new to the workforce, uncertainties about your own qualifications can make it intimidating. Nonetheless, remember that you were hired because you are qualified for the job. By actively participating in discussions and contributing your perspectives and ideas, you can influence and alter processes at work.

To actively contribute, for instance, you can ask questions, ensuring both you and your colleagues gain a shared understanding of the issues you face. This contributes to creating an environment where diversity and inclusion are valued, leading to more creative and innovative solutions to the problems you and your colleagues are tackling. Additionally, you must demonstrate curiosity and a willingness to learn by asserting yourself. Personally, I have learned a lot at work by asserting myself and asking questions, which has helped me feel more comfortable and confident in the workplace.

2. Work-life balance is key

Even though work is an important part of your everyday life, maintaining a healthy balance between work and leisure is crucial. Leisure time is about unwinding, where you can pursue your own interests and develop your personal qualities. In today's digitized world, where the expectation of being constantly available exists, it becomes even more important to set clear boundaries for your availability. To achieve better relaxation, for example, you can turn off notifications on your phone during certain periods.

Taking the time to unwind with exercise, friends, or other interests outside of work can provide you with the opportunity to learn new skills and challenge yourself in different areas. Perhaps you can learn to knit, try a new sport, or learn a new language? Such activities contribute to personal growth and can also offer you new perspectives that you can benefit from in the workplace while helping you achieve a healthy balance between work and leisure.

3. Be open to new challenges and opportunities

Another thing I've learned is the importance of being open to new challenges and opportunities that may come your way. When coming straight from the academic sphere, you might have an idea of the direction you wish to pursue in your career. However, there are many exciting job opportunities to explore, allowing you to learn about new fields and further develop your interests. This can also open doors to career opportunities that you might not have previously considered.

Even if you discover that a particular path isn’t quite right for you, at least you've had the chance to explore it. In my time in the workforce, I've experienced trial and error, but it has resulted in a clearer understanding of the fields that interest me. By saying yes to new opportunities, one gets the chance to continually explore and discover new facets of oneself and one's potential. In this way, it can create a sense of engagement and enthusiasm for the work, which in turn can lead to increased motivation and job satisfaction.

4. Build a strong network

Build a strong network both internally within the company and externally within the industry. By attending events and making connections, you can learn about new topics within your field and gain inspiration from external sources. A solid network also provides access to knowledge and resources that can be beneficial for your career.

It can also help you view challenges from a different perspective and provide you with ideas to tackle them in alternative ways. Additionally, one should not underestimate the social aspect of networking. Consider networking as an opportunity to broaden your horizons and get to know new and interesting people.

5. Ensure follow-ups and feedback

Finally, ensure follow-ups and feedback to gain proper guidance and support during the transition to the workforce. Having regular discussions with your boss or mentors helps ensure that you are moving in the right direction in your career. Don’t hesitate to initiate such conversations. They can provide valuable advice and guidance to enhance your skills. This gives you the opportunity to identify areas where you can grow and improve.

Establishing open communication about expectations, goals, and feedback is crucial for your personal development. This way, you can identify objectives and navigate through significant career decisions. Additionally, such conversations ensure that you can become an even better asset to your employer by utilizing your skills to the fullest. Use these discussions to learn from mistakes and grow as a professional, continuously improving yourself and reaching your career objectives.