Five great nuggets of advice to kickstart your career

Five great nuggets of advice to kickstart your career.

Last week I joined a number of Oxford Brookes University alumni to share our career experiences with an audience of management graduate students. All of my co-panellists spoke eloquently about their transition from study to employment and the myriad of opportunities they encountered along the way. 

In doing so, each had a little nugget or two of advice to offer the students setting out on their career paths of the future. Here are five worth considering:

1) Find the job you would do for free and build a career around it. 
I wrote a broader post about how to figure this out here. Starting out I just wanted to be a chef, but that lead to patisserie, then to restaurants, then to cooking demonstrations and TV, then consultancy, then management, then marketing, then social media and here we are. Back to you. Although the scenery may have changed, my vehicle was always hospitality and it was fueled by my desire to create great guest experiences. And guess what? I do it at home for free when we throw a dinner party.

2) Travel, learn a language and immerse yourself in other cultures.
Immerse yourself in other cultures
Try and do this while you are young and independent, because later in your career you will be swayed by other commitments which will talk you out of it. And why is this experience so important? At some stage you will be required to lead a team and understanding how we communicate will be fundamental in getting the best from your team. As Peter Drucker once said "Culture eats strategy for breakfast". You can put all the plans you like in place, but if the culture of your team, company or customers are not aligned with that plan, then you are setting yourself up for failure. Talking of which..

3) Embrace failure, learn from it and move on quickly.
We all have setbacks in our lives, but it is how we react and deal with them that sets us apart. If you can demonstrate your ability to bounce back from failure, you will show up on the radar of senior management or investors. Many, if not all of the greatest business leaders have been through some form of life changing setback which made them stronger and more measured as a result. Did you know Richard Branson has dyslexia? There's a fascinating article about some famous adversities here.

4) Be yourself, but bring your 'A' game.
Nobody is as well reahearsed at being unique as you are. If you're still trying to figure out certain aspects of who you want to be, don't worry. Most people are. Try and work with people you respect, learn about people you admire and don't be afraid to emulate their mannerisms, behaviours and thinking. However at some point you have to arrive at the person YOU ARE. When that day comes, you will have gained a huge advantage on many of your colleagues and competitors. (Bonus tip: also don't forget you can learn from the people you dislike about the kind of person you DON'T want to be. An equally important distinction.) As for your 'A' game - that simply means work hard, play hard. Make sure however that you know the distinction, because confusing the two is where most of the energy will be sucked out of your career on that ladder to success.


5) Don't underestimate loyalty, respect and determination.
These should be qualities you display and qualities you seek out in the people you work with. Sometimes you are faced with making a decision where you might appear to be letting someone down (leaving a job, re-locating, turning down a promotion etc). But if the overriding verdict was out of loyalty or respect for someone else, or as part of your determination to grow as a person or leader, then the other party will respect the outcome. A simple question to evaluate this thought process is to ask yourself: Is this the best I can do? Business leaders know they can teach tasks, duties and processes, but they can't 'teach' integrity. That comes built in as part of your character. Bring that as part of your 'A' Game and the road will rise to meet your journey.


These are just five. If you have any other qualities, characteristics or nuggets of advice to offer someone starting out in their career, please take a minute to write a small comment below. Who knows how inspirational that might be to someone.


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