What It Takes

For those aspiring business students that are finishing school soon and about to land their first job… Congratulations! Welcome to the workforce.

School has prepared you to start your career with enough knowledge to get through a week and understand and apply the basics. Here is some advice as you enter the corporate jungle:

(Note: this article is especially useful for those finance students who are going to work for a bank or brokerage firm)

Prove Yourself

All too often I see young people who can’t seem to advance in their early careers, while a few of their peers do.

Your attitude at work should be “I need to prove myself first. I need to show my employer why I am so valuable to the business and giving me opportunities will benefit the business.”

Evenings and Weekends

Successful business people aren’t told or asked to work evenings and weekends. They just do.

It doesn’t have to be all the time. But ask yourself, how many of my peers are working late into the evening or on a weekend? The answer is nearly none.

So why should you work the odd weekend or evening?

Because doing so gives you a serious one-up on your peers. You will be able to relate to the long hours your managers have had to make during their careers. You will get ahead on your work. And you’ll learn a lot (especially with no distractions).

1-2yrs is Nothing

After committing oneself to a few years of hard work you should be quickly advancing your career, right?

Maybe, but be patient.

Think of this. You took 12 years to get through grade school and then another 4 years to get your degree. One to two years of time spent in the workforce is nothing. Especially when you have just started.

From the perspective of your 40-50 year old manager, your 1-2 years of work is a useful but minor contribution to the overall business.

Be Inquisitive

Did you ever take a course in school that you found totally boring and as such, took little interest in the course, professor or material?  Don’t do this in business.

One of the most important things you should have attained coming out of university is the ability and importance of learning. Take interest in your work. Don’t just be an information regurgitator. Understand what you are working on and how it fits into the overall business. What may seem useless information today, may become important for you years later in your career.

Be Coachable

Your parents and the business school you paid thousands of dollars in tuition fees to have been telling you for years … Your smart. You have a bright future. The world is yours for the taking.

It’s probably all true. Just don’t forget to be willing to take direction.

Don’t be offended if your manager isn’t kind or tactful in their delivery. Not everyone has the nicest delivery. But listen to their message. You might learn something valuable.

Take Pride

You are now in the working world. School (for the time being at least) is behind you. Be proud of the achievements you’ve made and express it at work. Enthusiasm is a very strong quality and is infectious. You might not bring wisdom to the workplace, but your youthful demeanour and excitement to contribute will take your early career a long way.


Follow me on Twitter at andrewnjohns.