Wisdom comes from living.
Anthony Douglas Williams
I’m a corporate war dog. I’ve seen it all over the course of my long career and my life experiences have shaped me into the kind of professional I am today. While I have to vantage of hindsight, as a novice, you don’t. If I could roll back the clock and mentor my younger self, this is what I would say:
“Take your education seriously.”
While I received a great undergraduate education (I’m a Temple alum), it’s going to take a bit more than that in today’s business landscape. I’m seeing more and more employers requiring a higher level of education these days. And while it may sound elitist, companies (especially the most prestigious ones) care about where you went to school, especially when you’re just starting out. Gaining acceptance into a top MBA program will pave the way for a long and prosperous career. These programs have an amazing network you can tap into and give you an edge when competing for internships and jobs.
“Make that first real job count.”
While it may sound exciting to join a startup right out of business school, getting your feet wet within a Fortune 500 firm will shape you into a more well-rounded professional. I would look at companies with a strong management trainee program that will allow you to experience operations within multiple departments. After you’ve gotten a grasp of the way big business works, feel free to venture out into alternative career paths—especially if you know climbing the corporate ladder isn’t right for you.
“Learn how to play the game.”
Whether it’s at a large corporation or within a small team, you will need to learn how to navigate office politics. Corporate culture varies from place to place—even from department to department—so know what you need to do to build alliances that will keep you doing your best work.
“Be comfortable with getting uncomfortable.”
Early in your career, you will likely be asked to do a lot of “grunt” work. And later in your career, you may need to diversify in order to keep moving forward with your career. You need to get over the anxiety associated with stepping out of your comfort zone if you want to succeed. Understand that fear can be an asset if you handle it correctly.
Hopefully, you’ve learned something from my experiences and incorporate my advice into your own career path. What advice would you give your younger self? I’d love to hear your thoughts.