As millions of students graduate this summer and head out to the workforce, here are top five things for them to keep at the top of their mind in selecting a job for their future career advancement. These five things are based on my own 20 years of experience working for the top global companies such as Intel, American Express etc. in the U.S., India and Singapore.
Keep a positive attitude – As a fresher in the job market, you are not expected to bring a lot of experience to the role. What you are expected to bring is the positive attitude, new ideas and the commitment to learn at the job, work hard and get things done. These are very simple things to expect and I have seen hundreds of young graduates, freshers or professionals fail at having the right attitude and the desire to learn, work hard. As you join your job, show your manager or boss how you are a quick learner and have the right attitude towards the job, company and your co-workers. Good thing will happen to you if you are able to display it even if you are not the most technically savvy, smart or have the stamp of a renowned university.
No job or company is small enough – Majority of us want to work for the top global companies such as Amazon, Facebook, Apple, Google etc. However, just remember not everyone is fortunate enough to get a job at these companies after graduation. If you don’t get a job at one of these companies, it does not mean you cannot get an opportunity with them 3 or 5 years later. Focus on learning at your current job and current company, enhance your experience and skills and you will have an opportunity to work at these companies or other great companies later, if you desire so. Not all successful leaders or CEOs of some well known companies have started their career at well known companies or in well known roles. Some CEOs may even have started in a backoffice, backroom job or as an assistant.
Take a job that helps you prepare better for your next job – Any job you take or do, keep thinking on how that job is helping you get to your next job either at the same company or different company. So key is to make sure whatever you are doing, it is helping you grow professionally and personally. Everyone changes their jobs multuple time over their 25-40 year of career….so never stop learning and never stop thinking this is the only job you will ever have.
Don’t just go for the highest salary – I have often seen number of candidates, freshers and graduating students going for the job that offers highest salary. It may be a wrong thing to do especially when you are starting in your career. As mentioned, go for a job and a company that provides you an amazing platform to learn new skills, build your network and have the opportunity to move within the company on different roles. This is one of the reason many graduating seniors or freshers take a job with a consulting company or as a management trainee at a large organization. These jobs and roles provides a wonderful opportunity to continue learning and getting exposed to various functions within the organization or the industry. If you take jobs that help you in learning new skills, building a strong experience, yor bound to be in demand for your next job and for a job that pays more in the future.
Your career is a marathon and not a sprint – This is one thing I remember learning from a mentor early on in my own career. This mentor was a senior leader with a global organization who told me clearly that a career is a marathon and not a sprint. A lot of freshers or graduating seniors want to run very fast early on in their career. However, most of them either get disappointed or exhausted with the outcome. They expect to see themselves crossing the finish line quickly but their is no quick finish line in anyone’s career. A long term career is all about finding something you are passionate about, doing it well everyday, learning each day from it and having fun. So treat your career as a marathon race and not a sprint.
About Author Ajay Singh
I graduated from I.I.T India and came to U.S. for higher studies in Engineering 20 years back. After working for a few years in Austin, Texas as a design engineer, I went back for a M.B.A at Harvard Business School. I have worked for number of global companies in senior leadership and management positions. Over the years I have advised number of students on college admission.