Be The Captain of Your Career Boat
~ Written by Samih Terhzaz in June 2019.
When we are done with our formal studies, we usually land our first job in any way we can. If you have spent the past years studying law, chances are that you will begin in a law firm. If you have worked hard to understand gears and thermodynamics, you are pretty much sure to land an entry‑level job in an engineering firm or a factory. Same for all the major studies we take, they are designed to lead us toward one main specific position.
However, work is more than following what your diploma says, what your peers or parents think, and rushing to pay off your student debts. You need to be the Captain of Your Career Boat, steering it in advance to reach the destination you want. All the outside factors are like the weather that will slow you down or deviate you from your final destination.
Hence, before choosing your first job, you need to think about three rough waters you will navigate your career through and take enough time to plan your work and work your plan. Only then you can make your first job move that will help you to come closer to your second and third one, etc.
Got any clue about what they could be? Before you continue reading, share your guess in the comments below 😉
1) First thing a good Career Captain steers: Soft or Non-Academic Skills.
Soft skills pretty much define who you are and there are plenty of psychometric tests out there to help you find out. By soft skills, I mean your ability to communicate in public and connect with people, being introvert or extrovert, your creative thinking, work ethics, teamwork, optimism, time management, motivation, flexibility, problem solving, and conflict resolution. As you can see, the list is non‑exhaustive and it takes time to master soft skills. The better you become at them, the better your chances to climb the career ladder and also the better your chances to land a position with more responsibilities. Each one is so extensive that it can be covered in a separate article. You will need to hone them through work experience before you can use them to progress in your career.
I’m curious to know which soft skills you believe to master, let us know in the comments below.
2) Second thing a good Career Captain steers: Academic Background.
Nowadays, if you limit yourself to a technical or a bachelor degree, you will probably stay in a non-managerial position for a long period of time. Often, we see people go back to school to strengthen their knowledge with an MBA, for example. You need to take into consideration that the more you advance in life, the more challenges and the less time you will have to focus on studying an entire new program. If you finish your first diploma and you feel that you want more, you better continue.
Honestly, you can never be wrong with knowledge. Knowledge gives you an added value and may open you doors that you would have never thought about. That being said, if you want to be The Captain of Your Career Boat, I highly recommend that you look at the areas you want to improve and start working on them earlier even before you finish your first diploma. For instance, if you know that your English is far from perfect and you are doing your Bachelor’s degree at a French university, you better add a communication certificate at an English university.
3) Finally: Work Experience.
Even before you get your first “real” job, you probably have some experience in the field you want to work in. For example, let’s say that you want to work in marketing for a well-known retailer. Why not familiarize yourself with the environment by applying for a cashier position in that company during your studies? It will give you more credibility when the recruiter looks at your resume. Moreover, you will learn in advance if you love this industry or not. You can also volunteer, participate in an exchange, and contribute in your university clubs. Check out my LinkedIn profile for more ideas, and remember to update yours 😉
In conclusion, you start your career long before you get your first job and finish your first diploma. These are considered your starting points, certainly. Nevertheless, the way you build your ship long before you even leave the port is even more important. It depends on you if it is going to be a little boat or a majestic cruise ship.
Remember: At any given point, you are the Captain of Your Career Boat. You should be able to explain to yourself why you are choosing this direction or taking this decision. It is never too early to plan and it is also never too late to change the direction. If you feel like you need or want support in your career, sign up for your Dream Career Discovery Session 😉
At end of the day, there is no right or wrong DECISION,
you take one and you make it work with a big SMILE 🙂