by Oluwatosin Olaseinde
Make or Break: Your First Job
Congratulations, you have completed your degree and you have been assigned a NYSC post. This is one of the most exciting times in your life as you prepare to enter the job market.
In Nigeria, one is obligated to complete a year of national service in order to work at most organisations. Although some private practice are a bit lenient with this requirement and if one sets out to work independently – entrepreneurship – there is no obligation to obtain the certificate.
Knowing what I now know about the importance your career path has in determining long term success, I’m a huge believer in being strategic about your very first move as it plays a huge precedence into the future.
- Be Strategic
In the past, majority of people in the workforce have built a career via a linear trajectory. Meaning, they started at the bottom of a specific job function and gradually climbed up the ladder in that specific job function. For example book keeper to senior book keeper to accountant to senior accountant and then finance manager. While there is still similar patterns these days, more forward thinking organisations and individuals are leaning towards a more robust growth pattern/employee. A career growth that is more collaborative and involved giving one a bird eye view . You have a chance to get a feel of the company in different units while you still focus on a path, albeit, less linear.
If you have this mindset prior to your first job, it helps to be a bit more proactive about achieving your goals. You can then plan details such as what industry you’d lean towards, what sector and how you intend to get a round work experience.
Now that you have gotten the attention of the firm that is in line with your long term goal, how do you secure a desk in that office? To attract a firm with strong core values and growth opportunity will require more than the bare minimum. After doing a research on the company itself, take it a step further and research about their competitors. What caught your attention, is there any opportunity lurking, what correlation or peculiarity have you observed? You should point it out. Be adequately prepared and position yourself for the role in the company. You can even read up about the key management and their background, there might be a running theme amongst them. That also gives you a bit of insight towards the calibre of people that they are looking for. Research has it that prospective employers employ people that look like them – it might be culture, educational background and the likes.
- Making a choice
The interview can go either ways. It could be a yes or a No. If it is a No, do reply gracefully, indicating the value added. E.g getting to meet the directors – that isn’t an opportunity that happens everyday. Or it could be gaining knowledge about industry , sector and competitors as the interview gave rise for you to dig formore information. If the interview is successful, what are your options? Do you have more than one offer? If yes, do not choose solely on cheesy metrics such as proximity to where you live or how beautiful the office is. There are other key factors such as company’s culture, room for growth or cross-functional organisations.
- Settling in
No matter how many times we’ve started something new. No one ever gets used to being a rookie yet again. Most importantly leave a strong first impression – be on time, be diligent and work smart. It’s a fine balance between maintaining a consistent work ethic, being reliable, and still giving yourself the time off you need to survive. Your first job is not only about showing that you can get the job done, it’s also about forming connections and learning as many tricks of the trade as possible.
The difference between reaching your 5 year objective or even your 10 year objective in some cases can be linked to the quality of the first job you secured and your performance/attitude in that role. Be deliberate about the decision you take choosing your first job.
Op–ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija