Work is a great way to expose us to new environments and challenges, presenting us with experiences that will further develop our skills as well as our character.
But for this to happen, we need to find the environment that is most conducive. So if you are young and looking for work, how should you go about it?
You have only just graduated so you may think you haven’t got much to say on a CV or a job application. But having spent around 24 years on this planet, there are experiences you have had, observations you have made, things you have learned, views you have started to form. Write them down. Reflect on them. Figure out what makes you tick, what doesn’t. Discern your likes and dislikes. Find your highs and your lows. What you are proud of, where you could have done better. Your self-awareness and ability to extract lessons from experiences will start set you apart from others.
You have access to mounds of information on various industries, sectors and even the businesses themselves. Instead of spending time on social media pressing like and share, you might be better off doing some research to see what appeals to you. Make a list of companies that interest you. See what attracts you and what doesn’t. Look up the people who work there. Does anything/anyone resonate?
Be brave (and vulnerable)
Reach out to the companies and people you have identified to learn more. It may seem daunting picking up the phone or sending a mail to a complete stranger, but the world we live in is intimately connected. Jump on LinkedIn and track them down. See if you know someone who knows them. Create and leverage your network. Once you get hold of them, ask them about what they do. What they love about it, what they don’t. What types of people do they look for? Do you fit? Don’t hold back from telling people your aspirations. Even be brave enough to say you don’t know and you’re exploring. You will see that people are pretty kind and are willing to lend a helping hand because you know what, we’ve been there, we know what it’s like. Decent people will help and encourage you to find the right path.
A mentor once told me, “You have two ears, and one mouth use them in that proportion (and engage the grey matter in between)”. Ask smart questions and listen intently. Listen to what is said and what is not said – sometimes more is shared in the spaces in between. And also listen to yourself – some call it their gut, others their intuition, this will help you figure out if something is right for you or not – the package may be tempting, but are these people you want to spend your time with?
Don’t be surprised if you are offered an opportunity along the way. Don’t overthink it. At some point, you must take a decision, and once you do, do it wholeheartedly. Just make sure you can learn from your boss, and s/he or someone else in the organisation will take you under their wing.