Careers and Work

Learn Like its Your Job: Part Two

In part one of “Learn like it’s your job” we covered: 1. Develop a nose for (your) business 2. Let your creative flag fly 3. Be your own problem-solver 4. Go Big or Go Home 5. Trade “not”-working for real networking 6. Build Relati0nships Not Just Resumes 7. Partner Up 8. Go offline to work on communication and 9. Negotiate like you mean it

Here are 9 more tips to Every Recent College Graduate Should Have

Ask for help. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. A great way to get answers you can trust is to seek out a mentor. Having a mentor will help you learn a lot, a lot more quickly than you might have on your own and will provide a relationship that can be hugely beneficial as you gain experience.

“But don’t be afraid to seek advice outside of a mentoring relationship either,” advises Milazzo. “Some of the best advice I received when I started my business was ‘Vickie, you will encounter many challenges you will not know how to handle. But there’s always someone out there who has already successfully handled that very challenge.’ Know what you don’t know and when to seek answers. Appreciate that what works today won’t necessarily work tomorrow, and understand that aggressive learning is a competitive advantage to achieving any desired goal.”

Trust your gut. Work on tuning into your gut and trusting what it has to say. Practice listening for—and listening TO—your inner voice. You’ll find that it rarely steers you wrong. “Learn to identify what your gut feelings truly are (as opposed to being influenced by your boss, mom, friends, etc.),” says Milazzo. “Then learn to interpret, trust, and act on those feelings—keeping in mind that it’s okay to be rerouted by circumstance.”

Be constructive with constructive criticism. Learn to view constructive criticism as a gift. “Remember, you’ve still got a lot to learn,” says Milazzo. “Don’t get defensive when someone gives you unwanted advice on how to do something. Develop a thick skin. Instead of reacting negatively to criticism, openly look for opportunities to put the advice into practice.”

Don’t burn bridges. When you enter the 9-5 working world, you’ll quickly find that you have to work side by side with people you do not like. People you certainly wouldn’t be spending much time with if they didn’t happen to be using the cubicle next to yours. “You must learn to get along with these people,” notes Milazzo. “Forgive them when they upset you. And forgive the personality ticks that get on your nerves. You never know when you’ll need them on your side. You never know when your paths will cross again later in your career.”

Develop an entrepreneurial spirit. Don’t wait for opportunities to come to you or for the boss to ask. “There is a lot of competition out there right now,” says Milazzo. “You won’t be given every opportunity. Quite often, you’ll have to create your own opportunities and that will require that you take the initiative on certain tasks. Don’t be afraid to share your ideas for how to improve the company with your boss. You never know, he might really like one and put you in charge of implementing it. Regardless, he’ll certainly see that you care about the company and want to make sure you’re a part of what’s going on there.

“Rather than looking only at your advancement, look for ways in which your knowledge and expertise can grow and benefit the company. As a business owner, I appreciate employees who apply enterprise and ingenuity to their jobs. They generally enjoy their jobs more and receive more advancements and pay raises.”

Go for the goal(s). Give yourself a goal and work toward it. When you achieve it, set another goal and work toward it. Repeat. “Goal-setting will be essential in keeping you motivated especially if your ‘survival’ job isn’t particularly stimulating,” notes Milazzo. “When you always have something important to work toward, whether it’s related to your job or not, it will keep you focused on improving and moving forward.”

Build your personal credibility. Meet your deadlines. Do what you say you’re going to do. Become known as a person who can be counted on. “Be the person your colleagues and bosses trust to get the job done,” advises Milazzo. “When you do everything you can to become someone people rely on, they won’t hesitate to move you up in the company or to recommend you to people in their networks.”

Fuel your fire. What are you passionate about? What fires you up? What drives you to succeed? Now is the time to really think about your answers to those questions. Now is the time to figure out how you can make those things your passionate about part of your long-term career. “Let your enthusiasm and excitement show,” says Milazzo. “It will attract people and opportunities your way. People will want to work with you. When you find the passion that drives you—whether it’s family, serving others in the medical field, using the law to help others, or reforming a broken aspect of your community, you’ll have tapped into a fuel source that won’t run dry in the middle of the race. That doesn’t mean that the going will always be easy…but passion will make your life richer.”

Remember, life is a marathon. Volunteer to work the extra shift when you can. Always give that little bit extra (in terms of time/energy/attention) that takes a project from “good” to “great.” Remember that no matter what job you have, you’re there to work—not to goof off on Facebook, text with your friends, or anything else. Engage 100 percent, no matter what your current job is. “Clock-watchers who go home exactly at quitting time are never around for promotions,” notes Milazzo. “Work as hard or harder than your boss. There is just no substitute for the willingness to work hard. And remember that fighting through this difficult start to your career is like getting into physical shape: you’re going to be sore and you’re going to want to quit, but that pain and discomfort are making you stronger and propelling you forward.”

“There’s no sugar-coating it,” says Milazzo. “As a new college graduate, making your way in this economy will not be easy. But when you use this time to develop the skills that will benefit you for the entirety of your career, it will become a very fulfilling time. With the right attitude and the right approach, you’ll be setting yourself up for the fast track to success once the market improves.”

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About the Author:

Vickie Milazzo, RN, MSN, JD, is the author of the New York Times bestseller Wicked Success Is Inside Every Woman (Wiley, 2011, ISBN: 978-1-1181-0052-3, $21.95, WickedSuccess.com). From a shotgun house in New Orleans to owner of a $16-million business, Milazzo shares the innovative success strategies that earned her a place on the Inc. list of Top 10 Entrepreneurs and Inc. Top 5000 Fastest-Growing Companies in America.

 

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