A couple of months back, I was scrolling down my LinkedIn newsfeed, as I often do, and I came across an article written one year ago by Kelly Farrell, who is now working at LinkedIn.
The LinkedIn blog post she wrote was entitled “My First Job.”
At the time, I was a student doing a final internship before graduation. I'm sure you wouldn't find it odd to learn that I was particularly interested by an article with such title.
The next thing I knew, I was reading this article with great interest, and by the time I was done, I knew I had to do the same.
Indeed, not only was Farrell's article truly well-written, but it also was filled with the experiences her first job allowed her to live and all the things she's learned the hard way through this first job.
She detailed all the skills, be they soft or technical, she gained and how she was going to carry them through her new career.
And my six-month internship also taught me a lot about finding myself, the professional area I want to evolve in and the way I interact with people.
Since that internship, I have landed my first job, and I couldn't be happier about finally being part of an organization.
My final internship before graduation was a rich experience, and I learned enormously from it.
Here are the six things I learned from my first professional working experience:
1. Be eager to learn.
When you are a young person just starting his or her professional life, there's no doubt you have a whole lot to learn.
Yes, learning is exactly the reason we took the classes we did and followed the path we did from high school and throughout college.
But, I'm pretty sure you are not going to be surprised if I told you that no matter how much attending university taught us, it wasn't enough, and what we're going to learn as full-time workers is much more and goes far beyond the theoretical knowledge.
As you may have noticed, the word “learn” is perhaps one of the most used in those lines thus far, and there's a reason for it.
Being eager to learn means we're always striving to increase our knowledge and to learn more from those who surround us.
When the time comes and we start our careers as new graduates, there will be plenty of things we don't know about, and we will have to ask for explanations.
That's OK. Actually, that's pretty good.
Who can imagine a rookie knowing everything about the way the company does its business from day one?
Showing eagerness to learn will also show your new employer that you're a motivated person and someone who is truly interested in what they signed up for.
You can't go wrong with that as long as you do it genuinely and don't overdo it. In other words, ask relevant questions.
2. Be good at selling.
No matter the industry you currently are in or intend to be, one of the most important and valued skills you'll be expected to feature is selling.
Unlike what you may have thought so far, being good at selling starts with yourself. We need to be able to effectively sell our person, what we are meant for and our relevance.
For the vast majority of us, we will have to interact with clients and get the best results.
We will be required to sell what we have for them effectively and truthfully in order to get them onboard.
And even if you don't necessarily meet with clients on a regular basis doing your job, selling can also apply when it comes to submitting an idea of yours and actually get it approved by the decision-makers.
You'll have to make your point, and being good at selling both yourself and what you have can definitely help you with that.
3. Be client-focused.
My job title for the internship I was doing was “assistant director for businesses.”
As such, I worked with bankers in a business unit who were in charge of doing businesses with companies of basically all sizes and industries.
This job also implied that to do it effectively, you would to meet with the people running those businesses.
That's how I learned that to be successful in that type of job, I needed to be client-focused.
For nearly every major company in the world, clients are everything they strive and thrive for. They can make you great and can provoke your downfall, too.
Understanding your client's needs is the basis upon which you'll be able to build a fruitful and mutually beneficial business relation.
That's why we need to be honest with them and actually listen to them. That way, we'll be able to better defend their cases and bring them added value.
And trust me, they will remember and show gratitude for it, even in unexpected ways.
If you want to learn more about what it means to be client-focused, I recommend you read this article by Tom Forgacs on LinkedIn.
4. Be resilient.
According to the Oxford Dictionary, resilience is the capacity to quickly recover from difficulties.
I could not agree more, and I'm pretty sure that we're going to need a lot of this as our careers evolve.
I know this might sound easier said than done, but look, we have to.
Throughout my internship in the bank, I made mistakes, perhaps too many of them.
Either way, I think the most important thing to consider in this particular case is that I've been able to learn from them and to grow through them.
We will need tons of resilience, as we're all going to make mistakes.
But as the young individuals we are, we cannot afford to let those mistakes hold us back. We need to learn how to accept criticisms and move forward.
That's where resilience comes in handy, for it allows us to recover from hard times and quickly be back on our feet.
Resilience is a skill you can actually build. Make sure to check this out to find out more about building resilience because lacking resilience is a luxury we can't afford.
5. Be humble, always. Grateful, always.
Humility and gratefulness, especially in the workplace, are among the most important traits to have. They can never fade away.
We are 20-somethings starting in the professional life. Therefore, I firmly believe that showing those qualities is a requirement for us.
Do not take yourself too seriously, and be keen on showing that you acknowledge what others are doing for you.
Thank them and let them know that what they're doing for you is appreciated, as it should be.
Though being grateful as well as humble for what we have applies to every area of our lives, showing these traits at the workplace can make you be seen as a person who cares about other people and a person who knows how to behave around their peers.
Please, don't get me wrong; there's a huge difference between being humble and being naïve or a pushover.
Don't be a “yes man,” and don't be an inflexible “no man,” either. There is a right equilibrium to observe here, so find it.
This article published on Forbes by Jess Boss can help you with that.
6. Work hard.
Since there's no specific order of importance in the advice listed here, it's totally fine if “work hard” arrives in the sixth position.
Be well aware of that.
This one is, undoubtedly, critically important, and I have no problem believing that you figured out why it is that important.
Your hard work is something you can — and actually should — show off as much as you can.
Being a hard-working person will ultimately depict you as someone who is completely invested in their work and will do what it takes to get the job done.
And it always pays off. Down the line, there will be rewards to be proud of.
Oh, and don't make the mistake of thinking that your hard work will benefit someone else.
First and foremost, it benefits you, as you will feel more accomplished knowing that you gave what was needed for something you truly care about.
Because yes, you need to care about it if you want to work hard for it. It's logic.
Give the best of yourself, and take the laurels.
Any thoughts about this post? I want to hear from you! Don't hesitate to hit the comment section below.
This article was originally published on the author's LinkedIn.