I Tried Working In Different Industries/Jobs/Companies And This Is What I Learned
Four jobs within four years for a 25-year-old. I graduated from one of the Premier Polytechnic in Malaysia. I still remember I applied for my first job through Jobstreet. After a few days, I received a call from a top health care and beauty care chain company in Asia.
I was so excited but nervous at the same time since this was my first job interview. Besides, I was the first candidate out of six. The company called me 30 minutes after I walked out of the office to inform me that I could start work immediately which was unbelievable because I just left. This is where it all began.
Within these four years, I was working in the health care, auditing, and banking industries. The similarity between the four companies is I work under a finance unit but dissimilar in their work culture and environment. Regret about changing jobs? NO! Exciting? YES! I always read on the internet or even heard from other people that it is good to job-hopping to increase your salary but it will give a bad impression on you because it will show that you are not loyal to the company. Frankly, these are my reasons to jump from one company to another.
Since I am still young, I believe I can do many things and expose myself to a better career progression. I would perform ‘post-mortem’ on my job performance for a certain period to ensure I was on track to achieve my career goals.
During the ‘post-mortem’, some questions that usually would be asked are ‘Am I performing my jobs as mentioned in the contract?’, ‘Are these reports successfully submitted within the stipulated time? If not, how can this issue not be repeated?’ and ‘What can I offer or suggest improving my work efficiency?’.
To validate my progress and help me with my ‘post-mortem’, I would discuss with my supervisor regarding my responsibilities, achievements, challenges, and opportunities that I would be able to earn from my current role. I might not see what my supervisor saw in me, hence, feedback from the supervisor could drive me to perform better in my job. Two-way communication between employee and employer is more effective as they can share their thoughts, opinions, and ideas to help both parties grow.
2. Learning more about which job/industry is right for me
Honestly, I do not have a specific answer if you ask me about what I am going to be. Because based on my logical thinking, there were many subjects or topics that I learned during my college days. Therefore, I feel there is a lot for me to explore and learn in the industry. I keep reminding myself that life does not always go the way I plan. But surely something that is happening now is to teach me some lessons.
For instance, I used to work at a bank as a credit clerk and suddenly I was told to do credit card sales even though it was NOT in my job description. I failed a few times because no one said yes to me. But slowly I learned from the seniors how to close a deal. They taught me to understand the product that I wanted to sell first, then identify the potential customers and be confident in front of them.
It was a wonderful experience because I met a lot of people who accepted and rejected me. But since this task was not listed in my job description, I started to hate my job and felt demotivated to go to work because, to be honest, I did not like to do sales even though I studied business and marketing. I found this event normal in any job where people sometimes tend to hate what they are doing.
To overcome this issue, I confronted my supervisor that I disliked this task and it made me lose focus. Without hesitation, my supervisor convinced me to continue learning and upskill my communication while doing the sales. He also suggested being a suitable time to do the sales, so that I could manage my schedule to do other tasks. Plus, the sales could be done via phone call.
I could learn to communicate through the phone first rather than be face-to-face with the customers. No offense and I took up the challenge because this task really helped to improve my communication skill. For me, the right job here refers to a situation where I feel comfortable with everything; the job, people, environment, and progression. I am grateful because I have been involved in different industries but still applicable to what I have studied before. This helps me to choose either to stay and progress or to continue searching for the right job.
Salary is my value and it must be one of the important reasons to change jobs. Earning a higher salary can provide me more financial stability when I can comfortably pay for my commitments like house, car, insurance, and household expenses but still plenty left for my savings. Moreover, it is such a relief when I can pay my bills on time and at the same time have an adequate emergency fund.
An increase in salary encourages me to plan for future financial goals such as long-term investment, retirement plan, and paying off my debt. I can refer to a financial adviser to leverage my monthly salary to achieve my financial goals. Also, I need to bear in mind that the higher the salary, the higher the responsibilities. Since I am still a junior in this industry, I should be realistic about my value and review the responsibilities that I have on my shoulders. Is it worth it?
Different places with different people gave me remarkable experiences and lessons. These are the best 4 lessons in my career so far.
1. I learned the importance of written and verbal communication
Communication skill is one of the crucial factors to determine whether I am a good employee or not. It happened around me where employers labeled their employees as passive since they did not communicate much with other colleagues. We work as a team and we do need each other to back us up.
I realized that I must speak up if I face any difficulty regardless of the job or anything else. Not only that, but my current job also requires me to engage with many parties which I cannot avoid.
A simple example is when I require to engage with my clients via email and phone calls. There are two types of communication here; written and verbal. Written communication includes emails or letters while verbal communication refers to face-to-face and phone calls. Between the 4 jobs that I have been to before, all of them have different ways of writing their emails. Based on Linkedin, the basic components to writing an etiquette email are identifying the purpose, focusing on objective and content.
I am proud to say that my written and verbal communication have been getting better and better throughout my career journey. It was so hard in the first place. I even had my first panic attack during the learning process. But this triggered and changed me so much to a greater person.
I learned that to have good communication skills, I must understand my purpose first and plan to deliver the message as simple as possible but significant. Imagine putting myself in the audience’s place on how to sit comfortably and give ear to the presenter. Obviously, I do not want to be draggy because it is boring.
2. I learned to be more confident at work
It might look like nothing, but this is a precious value. Everything starts with me. When I can communicate well, I will feel confident to perform my job. Being confident is important especially when I liaise with people professionally. People will observe the way I present and deliver my message. My objective is to make sure they understand my message. Hence, I must be confident to convince people that I am informing them of the right things.
3. I learned the value of clear organizational skill
One of the organizational skills that I learned was planning. A To-Do List is a part of planning. This looks simple but it helps a lot to organize my daily life. With a To-Do list, it helps me to relieve my anxiety at work and make me conscious of which task is my top priority and that would need to be done first thing in the morning. If I have a long list of tasks on my plate and I am struggling about where to start, I will discuss it with my team or supervisor. This is to assure that I deliver my job based on their expectations.
Before I approach the team, I would assess each task by preparing my To-Do list based on its urgency, dateline, and capability to deliver. Once the list is prepared, I would confront the team whether they are comfortable with it or not. There are two possibilities, either the team agrees or they suggest rescheduling. If I reschedule, I need to rearrange my tasks. This can help both parties, the team, and I manage our expectations on the deliverable.
When Covid-19 hit the whole world in 2020, I was required to work from home, and communication between the team was limited as we could only meet online via Microsoft Teams. This is where the To-Do list helps to remember my tasks and increase my productivity by tracking the time that I have spent on them. Besides, I can focus on smaller and actionable tasks where I can perform with minimal guidance. It is a success for me once I cross the tasks that I have done for the day. It helps me to motivate myself and keep going whenever I feel things get tough.
4. I learned to be more ambitious and future-oriented
Once I feel quite comfortable with my current job, I will start to think about my next plan. I start to question myself, ‘Am I going to deal with this job for my entire life?’ or ‘I know I can give more and take up new challenges but what is the prerequisite to be promoted to a better position?’.
That is where I think I need to work harder for a greater opportunity. For example, attend courses that are related to the job, sit for professional examinations or discuss my career progression with a supervisor. I believe once the supervisor acknowledges my interest to have better exposure and experience, the supervisor will try to get me involved in any analytical project or tasks where I need my involvement.
Nowadays, there is a lot of learning space or courses available on the internet either free of charge or requiring a small fee. Examples of learning space are Crunch School by Nuffnang, FutureLearn, and e-Latih by the Human Resource Development Fund (HRDF). They offer various courses on their website. It is just one click away to find courses that are related to the job. I personally think that I need to add value or upskill myself in order to have a better and brighter future.
One thing for sure, I am young and I have a lot of fun time that I should sacrifice (not all but part of it) because I always remind myself that I survive today because of the knowledge and salary that I have learned and earned. If I want a greater life, I must act, including having a healthy and better routine. Remember, small progress is still progress.
4 years is a small number. I have a long journey ahead and I am pretty sure it will be so adventurous-the ups and downs. Sometimes it feels hard to survive, be it at home or the workplace, but one thing that I always remind myself is, every day is a learning process. Either you learn it yourself or you learn from others. Rule number one is never to compare yourself to others. It just is not valid for me because we are not walking in the same shoes. The best comparison that I could make is me today and myself yesterday.
The last rule is to appreciate. Always appreciate the little things that I did because who else is going to do that. Those little things and small progressions are happening for a reason for me to move forward and encourage me to continue learning. It is easier said than done but time is ticking as cliché as it sounds. Like it or not, we need to be brave to face the day. Last but not least, Steve Jobs once said the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you have not found it yet, keep looking.
For further reading on improving your career, check out these articles on 5 Things To Practice to Strengthen Your Workplace Communication Skills and How You Can Create Value For Your Company.