A first job brings an inevitable whirlwind of experiences: successes, failures, and everything in between. Battling through the daily grind can make it hard to realize how your work is contributing to your professional development. However, it is important to recognize that these experiences are much more than just a way to pay the rent; they are great opportunities to build an arsenal of tools that will support you through your entire career. Keeping this idea in the back of your mind can make the day-to-day less mundane, while also helping you proactively lay groundwork for future endeavors. Below are some skills young employees should pursue and exercise in their first jobs to give themselves a clearer path to professional success.
1. Get to the Point. The ability to express oneself to others is pivotal in the creation of workplace success, and working on it early will accelerate your professional growth. One of the most basic ways in which to develop communication skills is through routine verbal interaction with both co-workers and customers--an experience that is increasingly rare in an era of constant online dialogue. Consider the most precise and succinct way to say something in order to communicate your point most effectively. Think through your message and adapt to your audience; speak with the goal of the listener's complete comprehension. Developing strong communication can help in many ways, from routine phone calls with company peers to public speaking to engaging with unfamiliar senior executives.
2. Be a Team Player. In the corporate world, true success is seldom achieved alone. Rather, those who succeed often do so by collaborating with others. A business is composed of moving parts that work together to reach a common goal, and now you are one of these parts. Learn how to be a team player by looking out for the good of the team instead of just yourself. From day one, support your team to benefit the organization as a whole, and your value will become visible and valued. Furthermore, teamwork is a reciprocal skill, and prioritizing your team means they will do the same for you as well. By learning to give and take effectively on a team, you will set yourself on a more direct route to success in your current job and elsewhere.
3. Be Persistent. The ability to continue moving forward when the going gets tough is a skill with obvious value that is often very hard to put into practice. This is about more than just keeping your eye on the prize; it is about never giving up, even when failure seems likely. Forge ahead with determination in matters of all level of difficulty, and eventually it will become habit to do so. And once persistence is part of your professional DNA, you will be ready to climb the corporate ladder two steps at a time.
4. Demonstrate Ambition. Becoming comfortable is easy in the workplace. You may be able to get by while doing the minimum in the office, but you may also be stuck in your role forever, which can be a boring, financially unsatisfactory prospect. For those interested in being engaged and interested at work, as well as increasing financial return on time spent at work, it is important to get in the habit of pushing yourself by asking for more to do from the beginning of your career on. Moreover, when you get the work, do not settle into a routine of simply achieving good; push the limits to find great and incredible. Take advantage of every chance to build on your skills and bank of experiences, and let your superiors know that you are truly eager to contribute. If you do, this ambition will inevitably make you stand out at work, as well take your career to greater heights.
Building these skills may not come easily, and progress will almost certainly not be visible overnight. Each takes some devotion and focus, but if you apply yourself to work on them, you will vastly improve your odds of job satisfaction in the short term and a more rewarding, higher-achieving career in the long term.