10 Tips for Those Starting Their Careers

graduate 3Starting your working life is both exciting and scary. You want to be happy at work. Some find the job they want. Others have to take something that is different from what they were looking for. Whatever your first job is it is important to find something meaningful in the work that you do and learn about yourself from the experience. This job may be the first of many that will make up your career. Understanding what you find interesting and where your passion lies is the first step in having a fulfilling and meaningful career. To help you start your career, I’ve created a list of 10 ways to get your career on track. They are not meant to be implemented all at once but gradually.


  1. Have a growth mindset. Whatever your first job is, make it a learning experience. Learn about the organization and how your job fits in. Learn what your colleagues do and how they fit into the organization. Make sure you understand your job and what is expected of you and then work to meet and exceed those expectations. Approach every job with a desire to do your very best. Look for the spark within you that makes the work meaningful.
  2. Know your value proposition Know what you have to offer. What are your strengths, values and skills? Be able to tell your manager and others that you meet both inside and outside your company what you have that makes you uniquely qualified for the work that you do.
  3. Start forming a network. Make a list of people who you want to maintain connection with. Possibilities include professors, friends, leaders of organizations, your managers, colleagues etc. Use an Excel spreadsheet or CMS software package to keep track of your network. Continually add to this list throughout your career. Use your network for support in the job or when you need a new job.
  4. Find the spark within. Learn what interests you and what excites you in your field or another. Become aware of the spark within you that ignites your passion. Be open to new possibilities and changes in circumstances. Today it is rare that someone stays in the same job or with the same company for their whole career. Review your situation regularly to be aware of changes in yourself, the economy, and/ or your field.
  5. Know your accomplishments. Think in terms of accomplishments. In every task you undertake, understand what the problem is you are solving, what the solution is that you are implementing and what the results are. Simply knowing how to do something is not enough today. Show you can do it and get results. Keep a list of your accomplishments for your end of year review and your resume.
  6. Develop an expertise. Be the “go to” person for knowing something special. With an expertise that others do not have you make yourself a valued resource.
  7. Develop your own plan B. What would you do if your current job and other possibilities disappeared? Do you have finances to cover a period of no income? Know your options for work either volunteer or other for your interruption time. What kind of a business could you start and run? Keep these ideas alive while you have a job by learning about volunteer opportunities, temp work, business plans, marketing methods and what it takes to start your own business. Have all this ready and available if and when needed.
  8. Join professional organizations .They will help you to keep up to date with the changes in your area of expertise. Become active in the organization.
  9. Watch the trends in your industry and others. Think about where there is opportunity for you to learn, grow and move your career forward.
  10. Ask for help. This is not a sign of weakness. No one can have a successful career alone. Find mentors, sponsors and coaches to help you. Use your networking spreadsheet (#3) to identify them. Mentors are people in your own company that help pave the way for you. Sponsors are people who think highly of you and will recommend you for new positions. Coaches can help you to overcome any road blocks or obstacles that come in your way either in the current job or in finding a new job. Finally support can come through websites like The Ladders. The Ladders is a professional job matching and employment website for career-driven professionals. There are lots of people and websites out there willing and able to help you. All you need to do is ask.

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