I had my first full time permanent position before I turned 20. I worked hard as an intern for 5 months, working 30 hours a week and setting ambitious goals for myself, and my work finally paid off to a salaried position. I was the youngest full time employee by at least 5 years at a private company bringing in millions in revenue a month. It was intimidating to say the least, but a huge learning experience. I learned a lot more than 5 things, but these are some of the things I’ll keep with me for the rest of my career:
- Goal setting is crucial to success: I’ve always been a really goal oriented person, but I was never ridiculously strict with them. I would just strive to accomplish them. I didn’t take note of progress towards completing them. When I started working at my job, it was clear that in all departments, everyone had individual goals and team goals to meet every month. We were graded and had to keep track of our progress. Goals were important not only for the success of the company, but it was also how we got out bonuses. Goals are easier to accomplish when you get a reward for making it happen.
- There’s no I in team: Sure, I knew this already, but my job reaffirmed it. Like I mentioned, we each had individual goals that contributed toward a team goal. I could be doing good on my goal, but if the rest of my team isn’t, we weren’t going to get a good grade. In other departments, people had individual grades. In my department, we decided that whatever the team got was what we all got. Therefore if I was doing good, I would contribute to help my coworkers accomplish their goals if I could. In business, it’s truly a team effort.
- Management is concerned if you’re not asking questions: One of the things that my coworkers encouraged me to do was ask questions. They informed me that if I was not avidly asking questions, management would assume I would know what I was doing and would expect me to get everything right. They would also take it that I knew everything, and would see it as a sign of arrogance. The fact was I didn’t know everything and I knew I would possibly make mistakes, so I always made it a point to ask questions, even just to confirm I knew what I was doing.
- Communication is a requirement: When you work in a company, different people have different job functions. Some of your work may overlap, and no one wants to do the same work someone else did. That not an efficient way to use your time. You have to communicate with your coworkers, especially if you may overlap with clients. There’s been situations where I’ve contacted a partner of ours and so did 2 of my other coworkers. It makes your company look like there’s no communication going on, and in that situation, it wasn’t. Be sure to touch base with people you’re working with so everyone can be on the same page.
- Meet with the top executives: I was fortunate enough to work in a small enough company where I could meet with the president and CEO of the business and talk to them. It was still intimidating, regardless of if they had an open door policy and sat in on our meetings. It did, however, allow me to get to know them, see what vision they had for the company, and see how I could contribute. If you can, try to get a meeting with the president, CEO or head of your company/department. If you don’t work directly with you, they can easily forget your name or who you are. Make yourself relevant and essential to them.
Like I said, I learned a lot more than 5 things at my job but these are things I can take with me at any job I work at in the future. I’m glad I was exposed to the experience so early in life as well.