When I first entered the corporate world, I had no idea what to expect. Based on what I saw in the media, I thought that everyone was initially given a specific rule set to follow at all times. Once I started working at Century, I found that to be untrue. There are no guidelines, no syllabus, no set of rules to help guide you through this new chapter in your life. Instead, you learn as you go, and you build your expertise and professionalism based on what you see around you.
I was lucky enough to find a role where my peers and management had a great influence on me and helped guide me in a positive direction. I understand that may not be the case for everyone, so I wanted to share the meaningful lessons I’ve learned in my initial years.
Here are the top 10 lessons I’ve learned while working in the corporate world.
1. You don’t need to know everything.
When you start a new role, you might think you need to already be an expert in your field, but that’s not true at all. I entered my position two years ago knowing a fraction of what I know now. Most of the time, you’re hired for your potential, not your current skillset. The expertise comes as you continue to work and grow in your position.
2. You will make mistakes.
Don’t let fear stop you from taking risks and making mistakes. I’ve made plenty of mistakes, ranging from small to large, but I take them as learning experiences. Be sure to welcome the idea of being wrong—it’ll teach you important lessons and grow your expertise.
3. Enthusiasm will get you far.
It’s not always enough to just show up and finish your work each day. There’s a difference between going through the motions and actually being excited to complete the tasks in front of you. Find a role you enjoy, and this will be a breeze.
4. Document your wins.
For careers with abstract KPIs, this might be easier said than done. Whether that’s the case or not, you should still find a way to track your wins. They’ll help you stay motivated and give your management a way to measure your performance.
5. Don’t be a clock watcher.
I’ll admit, working an 8-hour day is a lot. Some days I’m waiting to jet off the second the clock reaches 5:00 pm, but don’t let that become a habit. Get used to staying a few minutes late to finish your work. It will improve the overall quality of your work and prove to management that you’re invested in your work.
6. Take accountability.
This one is tough, especially for me. Admitting when you’ve made a mistake can be devastating to your ego, but it’s good for your character and will make you a well-rounded and reliable coworker.
7. Learn from your peers.
My peers are everything to me. Without them, I would not be where I am today. It’s important to ask questions and learn from their answers. Incorporating various perspectives into your workflow will help you become more valuable in your role.
8. Never burn a bridge.
I’ve seen this happen a few times in my corporate career so far, and I’ve never understood it. Business is all about connections. If the time comes when you need to leave a position or company, do it with class and dignity. Using your past experiences will help you achieve your goals in the future.
9. Don’t take the first job offer you get.
Be patient. It’s easy for new grads to eagerly accept the first position they’re offered, but just wait it out. Be open to options. You might be surprised to find that what you initially wanted to do isn’t as great as you thought.
10. Sell yourself and your ideas.
This is the most important lesson I’ve learned. Becoming confident in yourself in a professional environment helps both you and your company. You may not be a natural-born salesperson, but if you can back your ideas up with rational confidence, it’ll make it easier to sell and execute them. However, be sure not to mix this up with arrogance or cockiness.