Wednesday, March 2, 2016

6 Career Tips to Help You Flourish

I'm always being asked questions like how did you find your job? ...How do you move around so frequently? ...How do you maintain such a good reputation at work? ...How do you know everything? ...How did you know what you wanted to do? ...Amongst a bunch of other questions and the answer is -  I learned and I figured it out, one day at a time. So I decided to put together a few tips to help my fellow entry level and mid level worker bees who have professional careers where they report to a company on a regular basis. Please note that I am by no means an expert in anything and these tips are strictly my opinion. I'm sharing with you, what has worked for me. My goal is that you take from it whatever you can. I also want folks to understand that there is no cheat code in life. You have to work hard for everything you want. Extremely hard. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise! But without further adieu...

  1. Network. Network. Network. I can't emphasize how important this is in life as a whole. Seriously - talk to everyone. Build relationships with everyone. Even if the person isn't in your field or isn't into the same things as you - a simple conversation can get you far. You never know who this person knows, what they have access to, or what you can learn from them. Do this wherever you go. Not just at work. Do this at mixers, happy hour, celebrations, professional events, etc. Now don't go harassing folks when they're only there to drink and throw their hands in the air. Know when someone is interested in a networking conversation. They'll actually continue the conversation with you, engage, and not give you one word responses. I used to always wonder if I had a sign on my head that said 'Talk to me please' because people STAY starting random convos with me. It was annoying. But now I embrace it because some of my most meaningful friendships and relationships began with someone who just randomly came up to me and started talking.

    As far as the work place, one of the greatest benefits of networking is that there will be times when you generally don't know something; and that's okay. Everyone seems to think you need to be smart and know everything to succeed. That is completely false. What you do need to know is someone who knows the information that you don't have. This is where your efforts of networking come to play. If you're ever asked something by a supervisor, or in a meeting, or by anyone you work with and you don't have the answer, don't freak out. Figure out who you can get the information from, and simply say "I'm actually not sure but I will definitely find out." People respect your honesty and ability to get the information that you do not know over someone who freezes up or makes up some BS.

  2. Switch positions every 2-3 years. Don't get this confused with switching companies every 2-3 years. You can move around in a company, the right company, very easily. But I literally mean, move into another position at the minimum, every 3 years. Also keep in mind that this pertains only to entry level and mid level professionals. I think it's crucial to move around to figure out what you like and what you don't like; what you're great at, and what you're not so great at. You can't possibly do that staying in the same position for 10-15 years. Furthermore, there comes a point in your job where you have mastered what you're doing and it is no longer a challenge. Finding another position will allow you to move to the next chapter of your professional career, and learn new and exciting things. I have yet to be in the same position for more than 3 years and it's mainly because I like doing different things, some more than others. Also, with every position comes new challenges, new failures and lessons, a new culture to adjust to and a new opportunity to be great! I remember working in an accounting position for my first co-op in college cutting checks everyday for vendors, contractors, etc who performed work at the company. I literally did the same exact thing every single day for 6 months. I know I would off myself if I worked there permanently for years. Not to mention there was no opportunity to learn.

    This tip is also crucial for folks who hate their jobs. You can't hate your job and not do anything about the situation. Let me repeat that - You can't hate your job and not do anything about the situation. It's like watching a house about to go up in flames and not calling 911 or trying to rescue the inhabitants. You just don't do that! Staying in a job you hate will affect your entire being. It will affect your mood, your relationships, your health, and a bunch of other things. Keep applying, keep striving, and keep pushing until a new opportunity opens up. Because it will. Prior to leaving my job in Philly, I knew I wanted to relocate. I applied for over 100 jobs before someone finally decided to interview me. Over 100. If you want something really bad, you're going to keep pushing till you get it. Do it. Keep doing it. Until you get what you want.

  3. Volunteer for everything. Christmas party. Collecting money or non-perishable goods for the needy. Setting up an event. Facilitating a call. Training a colleague. Volunteering your time, skills, and wonderful personality gives you visibility. It gives others a chance to see you outside of your normal role and keep you in mind. It allows others to also see you're not just a come to work and collect your check type of person but that you have personality, you're helpful, and you care about others. It essentially makes you like-able (if you're not annoying), and who wants to work somewhere they're not liked? I once volunteered to work a silent auction at work (don't ask), and now this lady always asks my boss' boss if [insert my name here] can come and help us, she's great! I don't know this lady from a hole in the wall, and she doesn't even work in my section but she praises me. If I ever want to work for her section, I know who to reach out to ;-)

  4. Do everything 200%. Always go above and beyond. Never half ass ANYTHING. I can't tell you how many people I come across who are okay with doing sub-par work. That's wack son! Opportunities will never open for you, nor will anyone ever have a desire to work with you if you half ass everything you do at work. Not to mention, people will talk shit about you! Your work should be representative of who you are as a person. Do you want to be known as basic or a star? Put your all into that assignment/project. Own it. Make it your bih! Have peers review it for honest feedback so you can make updates if necessary. Ask your supervisor if he/she can give it a quick look before you submit the final copy. Review review review. Your effort and desire to put your all into your work will never go unnoticed. You'll be the first one management will refer to for important taskings and dope opportunities. Not to mention, if you ever need a reference, people are always more than willing to talk about excellent people and how great of an asset you'll be to any job/department/company.

  5. Set long-term and short-term goals and strive to achieve them. This may not always be an easy task for some, and I get it. How can you set goals if you don't necessarily know what you want to do? Start small and make sure they are actually attainable. I want to work for this type of company in my next job. I want to make this amount of money by this age. I want to have this type of experience on my resume by this date. I want to have completed this amount of projects by the end of this year. I want to have received this score on my annual appraisal. Setting goals creates a focus for yourself and a plan. Also when you actually achieve them, it is fulfilling and it brings a sense of accomplishment and purpose into your life that you may have not yet felt. Don't get discouraged if sometimes your goals aren't completed in the time frame you set. Re-adjust. Life can happen and there are a lot of things we just don't have control over. Don't beat yourself up. Just keep going. If it helps, write it down. Keep a planner or even use the notepad in your phone. Have your goals easy to retrieve so that you can stay focused on them.

    On top of setting goals, share with those who can help you achieve them. People who actually have your best interest at heart and have something in common with the goal you are trying to achieve. There is absolutely nothing wrong with asking others for help. People have this warped idea that you have to do everything by yourself. False. If you know there is someone who can help you achieve a certain goal, and they actually care about you, ask them. If they decline, that's okay. In the words of Fab, "Take a risk n*gga, you gotta shoot to miss n*gga."

  6. Stay true to yourself. Always be yourself and remain honest. You know who you are and what you stand for. Never compromise that for anyone in the workplace. You know your beliefs, values and morals. You know the difference between right and wrong. If something doesn't seem right, speak up. Don't back-stab people. Don't agree to things you know are wrong. Karma will eventually come for you. Honesty goes a long way and is always appreciated. That's really all I have to say about that.
I hope you found these tips helpful. If you can think of more tips that have helped you succeed, please share!



  1. If I follow these tips, can I volunteer in Kenya like you?! Great advice!!