My Career Lessons So Far
My career has been quite a journey for someone so young – before I was 25 years old, I’d already been made redundant, fired and worked in London. I’ve learnt A LOT. So I thought I’d compress all those lessons into a little mind-fart blog post – cute imagery there, no?
I’m a Hard Worker
From the very job I had at Coles, followed by my job at Glue Store, I was told I was hard worker. I would smile and nod, thinking they were just saying that. I wanted to do a good job, to be the best, surely everyone does that? (Spoiler alert: they don’t.) So it didn’t really sink in until my first job where I would work ridiculous hours and didn’t think anything of it until I was made redundant and realised how extra I’d done and wasn’t quite sure if it benefited me in the end. I realised I am a hard worker – but working hard isn’t the same as working smart, or productively. (My boyfriend taught me that – he’s a tradie, and that’s probably all you need to hear.) The lesson is that I had a hard worker, but I need to ensure I’m investing my effort and time into the right things.
Being A Diplomat Gets You a Long Way
When I say diplomat, I mean being someone who has the ability to deal with people in a sensitive and tactful way. It means you can diffuse situations, not enhance them. You understand conflict resolution. It means you can get along with and have productive conversations with everyone, even people you don’t like. Less Trump, more Obama. I started out being a fantastic diplomat, but lost it along the way as situations frustrated me, and I blamed people. But I will say this: being a diplomat gets you a long way. It doesn’t mean you have to like everyone, it just means you can get everyone to work together. People pay big money for a skill like that.
Being Made Redundant Isn’t a Bad Thing
People are scared of being made redundant, and if you have a kids, a family, a mortgage – I understand. If you don’t, think of it as a pay cheque and a kick up the bum to find your next challenge.
I was DEVASTATED when I was made redundant – it was my dream job. Literally since I was 15 years old, all I wanted to do was work at a fashion magazine. Lo and behold, I made it. Not to mention, my first job out of uni. Then POOF. Click your fingers. One day it’s gone.
Six days later I booked a one-way flight to London, and ended up spending months travelling around Europe, meeting my favourite human (said boyfriend mentioned earlier) and living in London. I learnt more about myself and what I’m capable of than I have at any job – I also learnt that you have to arrive for an international ferry more than 5 minutes before it departs.
Sometimes the worst things can become turning points that lead us to something really special.
I Need To Be Challenged To Stay Focused
I’m and ENTP, if you know what that means – great (also tell me what you are in the comments). If you don’t, in summary it means: I’m argumentative, strong-willed, opinionated, philosophical, self aware, love to learn, love a discussion even more, not good with details, and INCREDIBLY easily distracted. Like honestly, I’ve Googled like eight irrelevant things while writing this. What that means in my career is that I get bored easily. I love to be challenged, as in love it. Because I love learning new things, new ideas, mastering them and then moving on. I’m also hyper-aware of what I’m not good at and would prefer to delegate those tasks. Basically: I’m a manager’s worst nightmare.
When I’m not focused, I lose interest and slowly get disengaged, unmotivated and uninspired – and that’s not what you want. (To prove my point, I left this sentence half written on the first draft – literally lost interest writing about losing interest.) When I was younger, I wouldn’t realise it was happening – I’d just spend a lot of time on eBay. Now I realise and understand it’s part of who I am, and something I have to manage.
If you’re like me and you’re in a workplace and you’re getting bored, can I give you one piece of advice? TELL your manager HOW bored you are. And if they don’t do anything, leave. You spend too much time at work to waste those precious brain cells not challenging yourself and learning.
Being Fired Isn’t a Bad Thing (Although The Way You’re Fired Is)
As a result of the earlier point, I had a job that I didn’t perform optimally in. There were so many factors: I wasn’t challenged or learning, I was bored, the company wasn’t focused on their employees growing and succeeding, management structures and the environment were toxic to me.
Firing me was the right move, but the way they did it, wasn’t. Sometimes people need to be fired, and that’s OK. But you should realise that just because someone is being fired from one job, doesn’t mean they’re crap – it just means that job/company/work place wasn’t for them.
Corporate Environments Aren’t For Me
Everything about the corporate environment goes against my entire way of being. I’m not exaggerating.
For example: Meetings where everyone agrees something, then it’s like everyone has amnesia and never actually do anything so we have another meeting. Having to work 9am ‒ 5pm (I do my best work 5am-10am). Dress codes. The politics. People telling you they want you to talk bluntly, then when you do, they dob on you. Having to get my social media strategy approved by someone who doesn’t even have Facebook.
It is not conducive to me doing my best work. In fact, corporate structures drive me mental. I’m convinced they’re deliberately created NOT to get the best out of people, otherwise why would it be such a mind f-word?
I realise some people love it, love the politics and honestly, I tip my super cute hat at you. But I was not made for it.
I’m a Fast Learner and I Surprise Myself
Doing scary stuff – like quitting my job to go freelance despite having no previous experience and only a couple of months of part time work – doesn’t phase me. After being made redundant and being fired before turning 25, you get a new understanding of how unpredictable careers are and how it all turns good in the end. But starting my own freelance biz has surprised me.
Turns out, I can teach myself to do a lot of stuff. For instance, I suck at pitching. Like, so bad. So I asked people how to do it (particularly sales people), did some research and my last two pitches got fantastic replies. I’m no good with the ol’ accounting and budget tracking – but I paid for an online service, and made it work for me (plus when you work for yourself, you like to get paid so you’re a lot more motivated when it comes to the old $$).
And now I’m working on my project management skills – making sure I have work before I finish one project. I’m not good at it and it’s resulted in a quite an inconsistent schedule but I’m sure I’ll find a way to make it work.
After all I’ve learnt over the course of my short but turbulent career, I’ve realised I’m capable than a lot more than I give myself credit for.