At the beginning of our professional career, we’ve seen those entry-level positions where they ask you to have experience, plus a lot of requirements that are simply impossible having just graduated.
Now arrives our first professional frustration, getting our first job. It’s more difficult than we imagine and so we ask ourselves, “What am I doing wrong?”
With this in mind, I decided to start working in my field (Law) as soon as possible. However, it was not viable until I passed the third year of my studies. It was not a common practice to hire rookies because those are competitive positions, where grades are taken into consideration. So, I decided to focus during those first three years on studying and learning to the fullest.
After applying to several jobs, someone finally gave me a chance… I don’t think I will forget it, nor the blue walls or the small desk where I worked for 2 years. It was a place where I learned a lot, started my career, and gave me the ticket to the journey of my independence. That job as an intern in a Law Firm, changed my perception of life, my profession and, without a doubt, helped me mature.
I can tell you a bunch of anecdotes of what happened there, but today I prefer to share with you the 5 best lessons of what that experience was, hoping that you identify, remember your first professional steps and especially see how far you have come. And if you are looking for your first job, I hope these lessons serve you along with your unique personality, you take the World by storm.
You Are Hired For A Position, But It’s Your Responsibility To Earn Your Space.
The hired as an intern and, although I was not promoted, I worked and focused on earning my space. I was determined not to be the typical stereotype of the intern who serves coffee and takes out copies of documents. I wanted to earn my place.
That Being said, I must admit that I worked in a firm where I was free to express myself. They asked me my opinion and they encouraged me to think more deeply, but it’s no use working in a place with a great culture if we don’t do our part.
So when you get to a new job, set your goals within the organization and show what you’re capable of, taking on your responsibilities and calculated risks.
Advancing In Your Career Requires You To Learn How To Appraise Possible Scenarios.
This is a vital skill and is very useful even from the first interview.
Let’s analyze this dialogue from my interview:
Director of the Firm: If you must choose between $100K or a book by Eduardo Couture (-One of the best Latin American lawyers) What would you choose?
Me: I will choose The book.
Director of the Firm: Why?
Me: Because I will always choose knowledge about money because with that knowledge I will be able to make more than $100k.
If you’ve already started a career and you’ve gone through several interviews, this question may seem a bit predictable. But remember that I was 18 years old and was hired as an intern.
Even though no one would dislike having $100k, I was being hired for a position where learning would be my maximum profit and I had to prove that I was there for that more than money.
From that moment on, I realized that reading scenarios would be a valuable skill for the rest of my career.
Even If The Work Is Awesome, There’s Nothing Wrong With Wanting To Change And Look For Other Opportunities.
After two years working there, my graduation was approaching and although I was comfortable, I wanted more. I wanted more challenges, more money, and more experiences.
How many times have you faced this situation in your professional career? You are in your comfort zone, but your heart asks you to take risks, to seek more.
There’s nothing wrong with that, but I’m just asking you to remember the previous lesson, evaluate the scenario, and take calculated risks.
Always Write Down The Instructions.
It was very common, 14 years ago, for me to always carry with me a notebook and a pencil to write all the instructions they gave me or all the information that was new to me.
Of course, we are talking about me being an old millennial. So, of course, it doesn’t have to be a notebook. It can be your phone, your Ipad, etc., you name it.
This habit will help you reduce the silly mistakes we usually make because our mind wanders. For instance, when you are receiving instructions and you catch yourself wondering if you turned off the air conditioning before leaving home.
Writing will help you stay focused so you can understand what you need to do, as well as make sure you’ve met everything required.
Asking Questions Doesn’t Make You Less Than Others.
What will they think of me? They’re going to think that I don’t know anything!
What if they think I’m not enough for the job?
What if I lose my job because I ask too much?
My question is not smart enough…
These were some of the sabotaging thoughts I had when I asked… I was ashamed because I felt that I should know everything. Aaahhhh the naivety of youth. Fortunately, I was encouraged to ask questions. That’s when I realized that asking is a way of learning and that the silly thing is not to ask the question but to run out of the answer.
I must confess that I keep that work in a special place in my heart despite the challenges. It was at that first place that I learned that not everything is ideal and rosy.
These lessons have accompanied me throughout my career, because no matter how much you advance in yours. That first job will always be in you as the memory of your first love, and will be with you when you assume new relationships more maturely, with clear ideas about what you need to do to surpass your limits.