Starting off in your career journey is never easy, and learning along the way is guaranteed to be quite a challenge. What I’ve found is that many of those in positions of privilege, like white people (especially men), have an easier time finding their place in a working environment due to having more support and resources. It doesn’t have to always be this way, and by helping each other as women of colour, we can aim to be more prepared for our careers. Read on for four tips on how to best do so.
Start believing you’re an adult
This may sound silly, but you will know what I mean once you are in this position. After you’ve studied or finished high school and you join the workforce, nobody is going to view you as a child anymore. You won’t be spoon-fed or reminded of all the tasks you need to do, so it’s important to remember this when starting your first job. We joke on our episode covering this topic that as a 20-year old, your work bestie may be a mother of four in her forties, and you will both be expected to perform your jobs in the same way, and to behave professionally. The sooner you start to adjust your mindset, the easier it will become.
Learn about time management
One of the most important lessons you can learn as a person is managing your time. While in school, you have teachers or lecturers reminding you of assignments due, or parents encouraging you to study for your exams. However once you join the workforce, you won’t have as many people holding your hand to ensure everything you need to do is on track. If the company you work for doesn’t have project management tools like Asana or Monday.com, start writing to-do lists for yourself on a daily basis, and make sure to highlight which things are top priority. Trying to remember all the admin or work you need to do can be tough, especially if you are new at work. By keeping track of everything you have done and still need to do, you will feel more in control of your responsibilities.
Don’t be afraid to share your ideas
Nobody expects you to do this in your very first team meeting, but speaking up and sharing your ideas is such an important thing to do if you want to grow in your career. Whether this is an admin meeting about office management, or a meeting where you are brainstorming about a new project – make your voice heard. Lots of people, including myself and Kelly, have struggled with speaking up because we are shy, or feel like our ideas won’t be liked by colleagues. Don’t let this happen to you too. You were chosen to be part of your work environment for a reason, and your opinion is as valid as your fellow colleagues’. Even if all your ideas don’t get implemented, your managers will notice your willingness to contribute. Still too shy to speak up in a meeting? Send an email. You are still showing that you were listening and put thought into the project at hand.
Always, always CYA
Learning how to CYA (cover your a**) is probably the most important lesson to learn when joining the workforce. This is not to scare anyone by saying that everyone is out to get you in the office, but when things go wrong or something slips through the cracks, someone will need to be held accountable. Whenever you are given a task or working in a group, try to have a paper trail as much as you can. Every piece of work you have delivered should be accounted for, and it really helps to have an email to show that you did what you were supposed to do. Again, this is not to scare anyone about how things are at work, but when people are under pressure and are looking for a scapegoat, it’s easy to point the finger at someone new or in a junior position.
These are just four of the top tips we shared during episode 10. If you missed it, listen here for more on what we wish we knew when joining the working world!