There are so many things I would love to tell my younger self, if only we had the chance to turn the clock back and give our fresh-faced selves some words of wisdom. In spite of being proud of my career journey and the things I’ve achieved, there are so many little tips and tricks which I know now that would have been so useful to have had in my repertoire when I was starting off.
There are many things I’d love to tell my younger self, if we had the chance to turn the clock back and give our fresh-faced selves some words of wisdom. Here are the top tricks I’d tell.
Here’s a few of the top things I wish I knew way back then:
Don’t hold back
Ambition is no bad thing and it’s not something you should try to hide. The only person who can really hold you back is you; so branch out and push yourself. You should be your main motivation; get out there and achieve what you want.
Try something new
Even outside the work arena, surrounding yourself with new experiences leads to innovative and original ideas. You will feel inspired and find it easier to think ‘outside the box’ if you keep an open mind in life, from listening to a new genre of music to trying out a new restaurant. Having new and varied experiences is key! Oh and in terms of friendships, never judge a book by its cover.
Network, network, network
Don’t be afraid; you are someone worth knowing and so are they. Providing you do your research and target the right people, you will receive a warm welcome. Don’t confuse networking with socializing, one is focused on achieving at least one positive outcome for your future – and the other is hanging out with friends.
In the future, you will find mentoring hugely beneficial. In fact I think my primary school teacher was my first mentor, and is still a great friend and inspiration. Having a mentor is an incredible asset and support when you first join the world of work and, later in life, you’ll find it rewarding to give back to those starting off in the industry as well as learning new tricks by developing these relationships. Never shut yourself off to these opportunities – they will serve you well.
Don’t undervalue yourself
Understand what it is you need and what you are looking for work experience is not paid, but internships should be. In the very early days when you are starting off, you will consider either at various times in your career and both will bring plus points to your CV – but do not undervalue the work you will be doing. If you’re learning from an organisation and your stay is short, unpaid work experience will give you a great insight to help you choose a direction.
Keep work and play separate
It’s great to have colleagues you get on with, but they should still be colleagues first and foremost. Business is best when it is not personal, so be clear in your mind where you draw the line to avoid hurt feelings and awkward situations.
Try to keep your home life private
You might have had a row with your partner or housemate last night, but the office isn’t the place to air your grief. Take 10 minutes out to cry on the phone to your mum or best friend if needs be; but don’t cry on your colleagues’ shoulders unless you’re really sure they have your best interests at heart. Think twice about what you let slip – you don’t want to be seen as a robot, but it’s not going to help you if you spill your deepest secrets, or get a label of being ‘emotional’ either.
Have some down time
It’s true that working too hard can lead to burnout. So, it’s absolutely essential that you have some time where you put work to one side and concentrate on something else; an outing with friends, dinner with family, cycling, walking, or just some relaxing you time. Working 24/7 will only ever be counter-productive to whatever it is you are trying to change, so take a break when you can; you will gain perspective and inspiration from some time out.
Do not tolerate any prejudice
Sadly, there’s still far too much prejudice in the world. From being asked to make the tea (every single time) to being the butt of the joke (literally), do not accept anything you think is sexist (I started work in the 1990s and those are real examples, that I wish I had stood up to). In fact any kind of sexism, homophobia, racism has no place at work. It’s about leading by example and if you employ a strict zero-tolerance attitude from the word go, you will be respected for it.
Lipstick is a woman’s secret weapon; never underestimate its power
If you feel worried about a presentation, you’re having a hard time personally or you just need a confidence boost, get the lippy out. Stand in front of a mirror, give yourself a (if necessary, silent) talking to, put on the lipstick and you’ll be amazed by how a slick of the stick can give you a much needed boost. I know, I still do it now.