Aligning your career objectives with 3 questions

When I first started working, I made the conscious decision to constantly reflect on my career objectives in order to ensure I was on the right track. This included seeking advice from senior colleagues who helped me to manage my expectations.

I came back from lunch one day and found myself in a serious conversation with a senior colleague. I had been 3 months into the job and this senior colleague asked how I was doing. So I opened up and explained my concerns about the learning curve of the job and sought advice on how I was to go about in maximizing my experiences. This senior colleague then asked me to take a step back and proceeded to ask me 3 critical questions that would help to realign my perspective.

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  1. Ask yourself what it is you want to achieve at your workplace
    and how you plan to achieve it.
  1. Ask yourself what other career development opportunities your workplace can offer
     and how you can go about in maximizing that.
  1. Ask yourself if you need a mentor.
    The answer is most probably yes. When possible, find one. You don’t have to establish a formal relationship, but at least find someone you can look up to and seek advice from.

As I enter my second year of working, my senior colleague has since moved on but his advice remains valuable and highly referenced when I reflect back on my motivations for being in my current workplace. I realized it is not always common sense or a natural habit to reflect on career motivations as many obviously know why they want a job but not all know what they’d like to achieve once they land it.

For a semi-fresh graduate starting out I quickly realized it is imperative to be able to answer the first question for it forms your guiding principle. I am now able to say this as admittedly I felt myself lost along the way and while it is apparently normal for that to happen, your motivations can easily guide you back, should you falter.

Just as education should be a right and not a privilege, career development activities should be a right of an employee to demand where feasible. Partake in training programmes when offered and do feel at liberty to request your HR to enroll you in other programmes beneficial to your work. The opportunity is always there for you to maximize.

In finding a mentor, I realized halfway through my conversation with my colleague that he was acting as one in the 15 minutes we spoke. As stated, mentorship is not some fixed contract. It’s a trusted professional relationship that you can rely on for constructive guidance. I also quickly learned that senior professionals appreciate being sought for advice and would be more than happy to share their two cents. The onus is on you to make use of this benefit.

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