As someone who has spent over a decade in the media, I’d like to believe that there’s a great deal I’ve learnt along the way. I remember being told by a mentor that ‘the media demanded a thick skin’, and I ‘shouldn’t be afraid to ask for help’. Looking back, she was right. But, it is as they say… hindsight is 20/20. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love what I do—stringing sentences together, weaving a story, and taking readers on a journey—there’s something quite poetic in the art of writing. But, if given a chance, would I go back and do things differently?
The pandemic and lockdown gave me a lot of time to revaluate my decisions and examine my actions. But the one thing I can say with conviction, is, every wrong turn or every decision I made concerning my career has made me who I am today. Would I have been better at what I do with more structure, guidance, and advice? Absolutely!
Which is why, I’ve compiled a list of dos and don’ts, career advice of sorts, which I wish I had been given when I first started out.
1. Build career skills as early as possible and weigh your growth opportunities: No matter your career path, your ability and skills, not just your education, will take you places and give employers the confidence that you can get the job done. Choose a career that you know you have a chance to excel at, and grow in. And no, I don’t just mean financially. Grab opportunities that will always teach you something new. Learning will only help you grow, and get noticed.
2. Don’t be afraid to relocate: Moving to where the opportunities are is one way to get ahead in your career. Besides, if you don’t expand your horizons and get out of that comfort zone, will potential employers see you as a viable candidate?
3. Start saving from your first paycheque: You’ve probably heard your parents break records repeating this statement, but this is sound advice, no matter how much you earn. Calculate your living expenses, set aside some for a few guilty pleasures, while the rest needs to be invested or saved. While you won’t see its benefits now, you will one day understand its importance.
4. Make a job switch thoughtfully, not recklessly: When considering a job change, don’t move out of boredom. It’s advisable to learn all you can from your role, and switch when you know you won’t gain anything from sticking around.
5. Don’t sell yourself short: Have big dreams and aspirations? Follow them. Just make sure you have a well-charted plan, have done all your necessary homework and what that career path will entail in terms of education, training, and even finances. Moreover, you should be willing to put in the time and effort to make them a reality.
Remember, always pick yourself up after a hiccup, and don’t be afraid to ask yourself the tough questions. Ultimately, a long and successful career can be had only if you define the rules, and understand what you want out of it.