What I Wish I Knew Before I Started My Career
On this day I felt on top of the world. After four long years of slugging away at University doing a Bachelor of Speech-Therapy with Honours, it really couldn't have come sooner.
Throughout my University years, I'd worked internships: I worked in hospitals with patients who'd had strokes and had Aphasia, created memory books in homes with families of patients with dementia, worked for The New Zealand Ministry of Education with children who had stutters, developmental delays and disabilities - honestly, could anyone ask for a more rewarding job?!
Despite bringing tremendous value to other people's lives, after two years in I decided becoming a Speech-Therapist wasn't for me. In fact, at one point in University, I was very close to having a breakdown. The continual stress from deadlines, self-inflicted exhaustion from partying and the slow (and at times disheartening) progress the patients made had made me want to give up.
And I'd decided to move away from New Zealand. As every country has it's own regulations, I'd have spend more time studying to qualify as a Speech-Language Pathologist in each city I'd live in. Not wanting to let my somewhat life-changing knowledge go to waste, I vowed to become an advocate later in life for people with communication difficulties.
Suddenly, I had no idea what I wanted to do.
I always think back to how concerned I was at that moment and from this, over the years, I've became increasingly passionate about helping other women (and men) in business. I've had a few other professions since - I was a waitress/ nanny in Melbourne, real estate agent in NYC and finance recruiter in London.
As you know, I now work in Dubai as a Specialist Recruiter for Marketing (digital, social media and offline), helping many people with their careers/ obtain the region's top talent. I also do Digital Marketing and all operations for this blog.
Here is the valuable career advice I wish I could have given myself back then
There is no point trying to guess your career path. Unless you are studying to be a doctor, pilot or speech therapist, career paths can be unpredictable. As a Recruiter for Marketing, I see CVs that started off in finance, as a welder or HR. Do whatever feels right at the moment, or do whatever you have to do - I 'fell' into recruitment after walking in as a candidate, I never envisioned starting this blog and, who knew I would love digital marketing so much I would get another qualification?!
Don't worry so much about what you wear. We've all been there day one of our first corporate job - rolling up wearing the 'safe' option of a shirt and black skirt/ trousers, yet looking like we belong back in St Kilda serving at the restaurant. For the first three months of my corporate job, I admittedly kept a black dress in my locker and would ask my office manager if my puffy, floral skirt was deemed appropriate, to which she would tell me I looked lovely. As long as your dress is an appropriate length (no more than 2 inches above the knee) don't be afraid to be memorable.
If something is wrong, speak up. I've realised over time that by doing that if you aren't going to be an advocate for yourself then no one else will - people can't read your mind! I remember when I first started recruiting, I was hired as a Resourcer to find candidates. I desperately wanted to be client facing. I didn't speak out about it until it was affecting me so much it was noticeable and my manager pulled me into a room to ask what was wrong. He was surprised I just hadn't said it! Holding things in isn't healthy and people will appreciate you speaking up.
Proactively drive your career, or settle for mediocrity. At school or University we 'react' to things thrown our way, such as test, and move along in a clear, standardised path. In the real world, no one tells us what to do! Conditioned by a lifetime of reacting to the options that are presented rather than proactively looking for new ones, many simply choose whatever career options are presented to them or settle for 'comfort.' Take risks and try the unknown.
Invest in yourself. In the working world, you have to go out of your way to self-develop. Business books have taught me a lot on personal development, marketing and sales (if you want to know some of my favourites message me). Strive to be a continual learner, whether it's through free online classes like Coursera (these are great) or watching TED Talks.
Challenge the status quo. Your voice defines the value you bring to the organisation. In most cases, your identity is misrepresented because your voice does not consistently communicate what is really on your mind.
As you mature in your career, so should your voice. Some people never find their voice because they never had courage to create one. It takes time. Be more vocal, practice mastering your tone of voice, test your ideas and make note about how people respond to it.
Nurture relationships. The payoff from networking can be excellent; friendships, new found wisdom, referrals... many find jobs through personal connections. Join a MeetUp group (if you are here in Dubai come along to our NBHH group I run!) or attend a conference or event where you can find people with similar career interests. Take your mentor out to coffee and pick their brains. You never know which relationship could lead to a life-changing insight or an opportunity to take your career to the next level.
Finishing Uni and embarking on your career is exciting, but can be overwhelming. Remember, your smarts and technical training only get you so far, it's hard work, determination and continual learning that will get you further - it's a marathon not a race! And I'm sure if you are reading to this point of my post, then you have all the curiosity and career drive that it takes.
Readers, what's your advice you wish you could tell your newly graduated self?
Until next time,
Briar Prestidge xx
*This post contains affiliate links which mean I may receive a commission if you choose to buy something. As usual, I only post things I love.