The truth is, there may be 7.4 billion people on Earth, but it’s a small world out there. Whether you’re in fashion, banking, the health field or any field for that matter, your “world” gets that much smaller once you settle into your career. It can be a blessing and a curse, so if you know this ahead of time, you’ll be better off in the end.
Your first real job, one that actually pays you enough to start paying off that student debt, is one you need to treat carefully. You’re most likely in an entry-level position and this is the time to put any ego aside, happily agree to make copies when asked, and ask all of the questions you can.
Find your mentor, but be selective. Watch how they’re perceived by their colleagues and how they’re referred to in conversation. This will give you a good gauge of their respect-level within the company. You want to follow a mentor who is highly respected and liked. What you should know is almost anyone in a management position would love to take a driven and eager individual under their wing. Get them to believe in you and they’ll be happy to help.
I’ll give you my personal experience. I was at my first job for 3 1/2 years before I left to pursue an opportunity in Milwaukee. I had time to find mentors, and in my case, three amazing people that I really clicked with. My time was spent learning and growing from each of them. Shortly after I left, it was apparent I made the wrong company choice, but I waited it out for as long as I could.
I contacted my previous director, who was now also in Milwaukee, for some advice. We emailed and spoke on the phone many times and she guided me through some tough conversations and decisions. She was protective of me and I was looking for direction on how to handle a situation I never imagined myself in. I felt relieved to know my thoughts were validated and it only helped to confirm my final decision to leave.
During this time she was also working up a little something for me, a position under her. This didn’t happen overnight, but I knew I needed to be patient. She wasn’t going to let me drowned. About two months later I was brought in for an interview. She pushed a rather extensive interview process to get me in asap and I had an offer a few days later. She literally saved me and I will be forever grateful.
The moral of the story is scope out a good mentor, make a good impression and they will forever protect you. They will open up their contacts to you for a connection or job recommendation, provide unlimited advice and believe in your success. It’s the most valuable business relationship you can make, so make it early on and make it good.
THE GIRL IN THE YELLOW CAB