At any point in your career, it’s good to have some career goals in mind that you’d like to achieve at the current company you’re working for. These goals could be anything from a promotion, more responsibility, leading a project from start to finish ,or coming in under budget at year end. The following are steps you can take to actively develop your career and maximize the experience you gain in your current job position.
1. Take Initiative at work
When your employer recognizes that you’re keen to take on additional tasks and go the extra mile to support the company, unique opportunities will begin to pop up for you. For example, say you are an intern marketer for a tech company with a particular interest in digital marketing. Offer to monitor social media after hours for your marketing manager. From there he/she will be required to give you some training on how to monitor SM for the company effectively. What does this give you? Hands-on experience in social media for business.
2. Find relevant courses and seminars to attend
It's in your employer’s best interest to keep you up to speed with current trends in your industry, but they often don’t go out of their way to identify these opportunities for you. Do some research on seminars, courses or workshops in your field of work and find some that you think would benefit you in your current position. Propose one to your boss with a few key points showing how you think the course or seminar could help improve your performance at work. If budget is available, chances are he/she will say yes!
3. Listen as much as you can
In meetings, by the water cooler, after hours…. there is a wealth of knowledge that your peers and leaders at work are sharing all the time. You can learn so much by doing this. For example, say you are in a meeting with your boss and a few other executives. You’re there to take notes or to speak to one key item on the agenda of 20. Listen to how people articulate their arguments and respond to criticism, and to recognition. These VPs have been in the game much longer than you, and have most likely learned the same way: by listening and experiencing.
4. Ask for constructive criticism
Any time you complete a project or an important initiative at work, ask for feedback on how well you performed overall. This way you can A) receive recognition for things you managed well (because you deserve it!); and better understand your personal strengths so you can use them as assets in the future. B) If there are areas that you could work on you can review them, address them, and work to improve them for next time.
5. Build valuable relationships
Especially if you are working for a larger company, building a few key professional relationships within the organization can certainly help you with career advancement. Sometimes I find that in a busy company where there are a lot of people working and interacting all the time, people don’t always get recognized for their talent, valuable qualities, or hard work. This is why it is important to build relationships with those few higher ups that do notice you. Nurture those relationships. Get to know them better – ask them for advice, approach them with an idea or two, and offer to provide them support during a project. Down the road, these are the relationships that will help you get to the next level. You may receive mentorship from them, or they’ll be the ones that vouch for you to get that promotion you've been working for. At the very least – they will be excellent references for any of your future endeavors.
Your current career position should never stop you from learning, growing, and stacking up that experience portfolio. I hope these tips help to get you thinking about what you can do to build your career while working full time.
I am sure there are many other strategies that I haven’t outlined in this post. Feel free to provide your tips and other insights in the comments below!