BY CAROLE, MY JOB GLASSES MENTOR & MARKETING MANAGER @ CITYWAY
Article translated by Cristina, Senior Marketing & Communications Manager @ My Job Glasses.
I have been a mentor on My Job Glasses for the past 3 years. During this time, I have had the pleasure of interacting with many young people to help them find their way. Following these many meetings, I noticed that certain questions come up frequently, in particular those concerning the right choices at the beginning of one’s professional career. Having questions before entering the professional world is perfectly normal and that is why I decided to write this article. Without further ado, here are my top tips to help you make the right choices early in your career.
MAKING THE RIGHT CHOICES AT THE BEGINNING OF YOUR CAREER: WHAT SHOULD YOUR FIRST PROFESSIONAL EXPERIENCE LOOK LIKE?
Quite often, one of the first things students ask me is “What professional experience do you recommend starting out with?”. I usually respond with a series of questions with the aim of allowing the person in front of me getting to the core of what they really want to do later on. Indeed, many students seek career advice – and it is of course possible to give it on certain topics – but the most important thing is to know yourself , because each individual and path are unique, one size does not fit all.
This discussion reminds me of an excerpt from the book Maktub by Paulo Coelho. The writer explains that when the German philosopher Schopenhauer was walking down a street in Dresden, looking for answers to the questions that obsessed him, he passed a garden and decided to stay there for a few hours looking at the flowers. Finding his behaviour strange, a resident of the neighbourhood called the police. A few minutes later, a policeman approached Schopenhauer. “Who are you?” he asked inquisitively. Schopenhauer looked at the man standing in front of him. “If you know how to answer this question,” he said, “I will be eternally grateful to you.”
WHAT KEY QUESTIONS SHOULD YOU ASK YOURSELF TO MAKE THE RIGHT CHOICES AT THE BEGINNING OF YOUR CAREER?
In my opinion, there are a few key questions to ask yourself before deciding on your education or on choosing your first professional experience. Getting to know yourself is the way to go.
- Do I want to specialise in a particular field or experience a bit of everything?
- Do I want to stay in a stable environment or travel frequently?
- Do I want to work with colleagues from my home country or meet people from abroad?
- Do I see myself working in one or more specific industries? If yes, which ones ?
- Do I need a mentor to talk to and learn from or am I rather one of those who thrive on their own?
Without making these questions an immutable checklist, they are a way of finding simple answers that will help you make your choices. If at first glance you prefer travel to working in an office, you could focus on retail, sales or events, for example. If you prefer to benefit from the help of a mentor to develop yourself, choose an experience in an SME or in a large company (vs in a start-up) and, during your recruitment interview, pay particular attention to your future manager: does he/she make you want to work with him/her? If you are drawn to a particular industry, interview professionals who work there and confirm your interest by experimenting for yourself. This will allow you to compare the image you had of it with reality.
HOW CAN YOU MULTIPLY YOUR CHANCES OF GETTING AN INTERNSHIP OR FINDING YOUR FIRST JOB?
As explained by Philippe Gabilliet, Professor of leadership at ESCP Business School, hard work and talent help you succeed, but a third factor is also critical to your success: luck.
But luck is not just luck, you can cultivate it. In fact, like the brain which, over the course of our experiences, transforms and develops through brain plasticity, our luck is a skill that can be worked on. You need to know how to create the conditions for success. You are therefore a key player.
How can you boost your own luck you may wonder? Surround yourself by new people to understand the reality of different professions, to increase the odds to be aware of upcoming opportunities and to get used to speaking to professionals (who knows if one of these new contacts will become your future employer on day?). This will potentially allow you to develop your professional network too.
Think of My Job Glasses as the go-to spot since this platform allows you to easily meet more than 52,000 professionals from more than 3,000 companies. If adults around you (family, family friends, friends of friends, etc.) are also part of your network, don’t neglect them. A student explained to me that she wanted to work internationally and that she would probably need to improve her English level. I told her that it was indeed important for her to organise herself to progress in this skill, by choosing, for example, a master’s degree whose courses were taught in English. During the course of our discussions, I discovered that her father worked in a company that taught language courses: she had, without realizing it, dismissed this obvious opportunity.
Even if you are at the age when you want to be on your own, become independent, gain some autonomy (that’s only natural), don’t cut yourself off from relatives and friends that might be able to help you.
See your ‘bad experiences’ or ‘bad encounters’ as an opportunity to learn more about yourself. I, for instance, your internship does not go as well as you had expected, consider it as a chance to identify what you want to avoid on your next experience.
THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS A BAD CHOICE
Take some time to find what inspires and motivates you: think about the courses or projects that appealed to you the most during your education, as well as of the teachers who most captivated you. You will find answers to make choices regarding your future career. All your past experiences, whether they were positive or not, will help you to know yourself better. Some experiences will even be amazing discoveries for you. Personally speaking, I have had the opportunity to work in industries which, at the first glance, did not seem particularly intriguing, but that turned out to be very interesting because of certain aspects of the job, the corporate culture or the people I got to work with.
Good luck everyone!
Do you want to chat with Carole ? Click here to contact her on My Job Glasses !