Ever wonder what it takes to be really successful? Sometimes it’s the right experience at the right time. I’ve learned a few things throughout my professional career and the more I speak with others, the more I realize there is valuable professional experience that everyone needs. If you’re beginning your career, look for these opportunities. If you’re where I am – you probably realize your valuable work experience too.
Work in food service or retail. Know what I learned in retail? Everything. I learned how to be a confident manager and leader, I learned the value of doing jobs no one else wanted to do, I learned how to deal with stressful situations and difficult customers, I learned how to manage 100 things and promote a positive experience at all times. When I was working in retail, however, I didn’t realize I was learning any of these things – for the most part, I just hated it. I hated working the weekends, I hated that people were so angry and I hated that I never had a minute of peace – even on my days off. Sometimes, when you’re in the middle of your valuable experience, it’s hard to see the value. Every experience is valuable. Think about what you can learn from each situation and go into your day, your job and your life with an adventurous spirit.
Work a job where nothing goes right. I worked at this pizza place in high school because I was desperate for money – I’d just gotten my first car and I needed to pay for gas and for insurance. This job seemed like it would be great, I liked their pizza and it was a popular local hang out. But the co-workers were bullies, they pay was terrible and I couldn’t see myself going anywhere in this place. So I went to the back and washed dishes. I washed them every shift the whole time I worked there. I knew it needed to be done and I knew I could do it well. And as it turns out, my weekly paycheck was exactly what I needed for my weekly expenses. When nothing seems to be going right, you still have options. Do your best. A terrible situation doesn’t’ mean you should have a terrible attitude.
Work a job with a fantastic boss. I’ve been lucky to have some pretty good bosses along the way. They’ve given me great advice, pushed my limits and helped me reach my goals. A good boss is going to give you the responsibility that you deserve – even if you don’t think you’re ready. They’re going to meet with you regularly and give you feedback to improve your performance. A good boss will share the credit with you and involve you as a change agent. A good boss will hold you accountable and expect you to do the same. If you don’t have a good boss, learn from their mistakes. If you do have a good boss, learn everything you can from them – it’s a valuable experience to have a great boss.
Start at the bottom and work your way up. It’s not often that you can walk in and be the top dog. I’ve seen most people have to start at the bottom and grow their value to the company to get promoted into positions that match their experience or skill set. And that’s ok. Sometimes it’s nice to start as the beginner, learn from the best and then (secretly) compete with them until you are the best. When you allow yourself to be a beginner, you open yourself up to learn more from others – and that makes you better too.
Your professional life can be exactly what you want. You have to believe it and then you have to work to make it happen. It will take time, but when you have the right experience, so many positive things can happen.