6 career-transforming tips for entry-level employees

You’ve been stuck at entry level in your first job for the last two years. Think common sense has nothing to teach you about earning a promotion? Think again!

I’ve been an entry-level employee for more than nine months now, and I’ve learned a thing or two along the way. The bright-eyed, bushy-tailed young professional I was now sees the real business world.

It’s not all rainbows, sunshine, and funfetti cupcakes. Lay-offs, firings, demotions, and pay-cuts are real. I sound pessimistic, right? But I’m not. Seeing reality has made me more passionate about my work than I ever thought possible. Success is always attainable.

A few pieces of advice to anyone who’s taking his or her first step into the workforce:

Ask questions. I know it’s common sense, but I still see the consequences of botched communication almost every day. Even if you think you understand a task, repeat it back to the supervisor. If you don’t understand or know a process, or don’t know a term—ask. Your supervisors will be more confident in you and trust you with more responsibilities.

Discuss your career goals. Your biggest advocates at the company are your supervisors. If they don’t know where you want your career to go, they can’t help it along.

You aren’t better than any project. You’re a young employee. “Paying dues” is expected. Don’t scoff at it. Organizing cabinets and data entry are never fun, but they will show your employer your commitment and willingness to help out.

Get trained. If your company uses email distribution programs, mapping, analytics, tracking or ANYTHING—learn them. Even if you have to train yourself, Google is an extraordinary thing. Never be the person who says, “I don’t know how to use that.”

Efficient is better than fast. More common sense. Still, failure here happens all the time. Getting a project done fast is great, but only if it’s done right. If you must sacrifice speed for accuracy, do so. Don’t waste time. Plan the fastest. most accurate method before you start.

Do what you love. You’re young. The career you have might not be the one you planned or the one you received a degree in. Don’t worry. It’s easier to make a career change now than 20 years later. You don’t want to loathe going to work every morning. Life is too short to be unhappy.

Remember—this is your career. Only you can make it everything you dreamed about as a kid.

A version of this article first appeared on LinkedIn. Connect with the author on Twitter @AmieEichman.

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