This article was written by Alex Bong, Project Manager at DECMIL and former Curtin student.
After spending countless nights burying your nose in assignments, lecture notes and tutorials, and investing a considerable amount of time job hunting, you’ve made it! You’ve graduated and landed a job. Now what? For some of you, this is the beginning of a new chapter. Whether it’s a specific project, role or company, you’ve set yourself stretch goals and you’re eager to fast track your career to achieve your desired level of success. But the path to career success is a precipitous climb, riddled with obstacles and hurdles around every bend. In fact, most successes are slow, challenging and do not happen overnight. Nevertheless, there are measures that you can take to equip yourself for this ascent and move your career into the fast lane.
Firstly, understand and adopt the STAR (Strategic Thoughts-Action-Reality) concept. The STAR concept evolves around the idea that your (strategic) thoughts greatly influence your actions, which will subsequently alter your reality. Ralph Waldo Emerson once wrote, “The ancestor of every action is a thought”. In other words, your thoughts, in one way or another, lead to your actions or inactions. However, having thoughts alone is not enough and it is important that your thoughts are well formed and bounded by one or more strategies. In your efforts to fast track your career progression, embrace having strategic thoughts every step of the way.
Define your career goals and have an action plan
Take some time to reflect on what you want to achieve and then commit to it. Know where you want to be in one year, five years, ten years or even further. Then, set SMART goals. SMART goals are goals that are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-Bound. Then create your action plan by listing down steps to achieve each goal. Periodically review and update your goals and action plan as you progress in your career. The whole process may seem cumbersome and tedious but “Without goals, and plans to reach them, you are like a ship that has set sail with no destination.” – Fitzhugh Dodson.
Actively seek opportunities
Actively look for work opportunities. Be proactive and identify where you can contribute and provide value within the business. Always be on the lookout for new projects and opportunities to go above and beyond the call of duty. In addition, actively seek development opportunities to improve on both your technical and non-technical skills. These include attending relevant training sessions, seminars and courses that are in line with your career goals. Consider reading quality non-fiction books on a regular basis. It is one of the easiest and most affordable way to expand your knowledge. Lastly, actively look for job opportunities. You may find something that will interest and challenge you, or you may find that you are already in your perfect role. Nevertheless, it gives you something to work towards and the opportunity to identify the qualifications and skills required for your next role.
Networking is an invaluable tool. From finding out about a more efficient way of doing things to meeting the person who is trying to fill a position that you’re interested in, the benefits of networking are countless. Build bridges within and outside your workplace and maintain those bridges by keeping in touch with your professional network.
Learn and share what you’ve learned
Make an ongoing commitment to learning. Take responsibility for your own professional development to advance and diversify your skillsets. Stay abreast of industry trends, changes and practices. Learn from your mistakes and the mistakes of others. We all make mistakes, and it’s best to acknowledge them, learn from them, fix them and most importantly, try not to repeat them. Lastly, one of the best ways to learn is to share what you’ve learned. It not only benefits others but also helps you cement your knowledge and understanding of the information.