Six months into my journey, my new home. It’s October and life is beginning to stabilize. Spring was a whirlwind—getting to know colleagues, clients, how the office operates as well as a better understanding of the boss’ expectations.
During the Summer everything slows down at work with colleagues and clients taking vacations. But things speed up outside of work with summer festivities, further immersing you in your new hometown and your broadening life.
Now it’s October and you’re picking up speed at work as you enter the full throttle and the end of year push coming on. This is good.
You are comfortable with your role and focusing on making an impact. The faster your work comes at you, the more you have opportunity to enhance your career path.
Remain attentive to the secondary activities that come with work. Personalize your workspace, if possible, not just– as the cliché advises– to provide the appearance of your commitment to the new place, but to internalize the commitment to yourself. This small effort will also provide a point of conversation with your colleagues. A plant, sure – just keep it looking lively and neat! For a full pro look at desk setups check out this Pinterest link.
Stay away from fish bowls and parakeets or Finches – Yes I’ve seen them in client’s offices. Careful with wall art. Led Zeppelin posters, No. Rage Against the Machine Posters, No. Pictures of your favorite land marks and professional idols (Gates, Jobs, Sandberg) – YES! No Politics, unless its an open, politically fluid group. No Grateful Dead images either. Client’s may get the wrong idea.
Little Career Disciplines Add Up Quickly Over Time
Make a point to know your colleagues and their interests — you’ll become important resources for each other on multiple levels as time moves on. Always update and expand your list of contacts —prioritize the ones that seem important or interesting to you, review them (even reach out to them), periodically, and revise as necessary. It only takes a few minutes every week or so. Keeping them familiar in your mind will serve you surprisingly well when they call out of the blue or the boss brings them to your attention.
Pro Hint: Emails and texts to clients when there is no work needed is a great move. A holiday greeting or any greeting can be meaningful. Don’t reference work. Reference an activity you know they like, or a local event. It builds a relationship with them. Say things like, “I just read this article, did you see it?” and embed the link in your email. Or, “I saw that Rochester is expecting a monster storm this weekend. Stay safe!”. If you shared a meal or a coffee at a local place, snap a picture of some new interesting spot and send it to them with a note, “Next time your in town will try this place out”. In long term business, relationships mean something. And it doesn’t have to be golf or fancy business dinners. It can be anything at all. Just know your client and keep it light.
Your Boss Matters!
Back to your Career focus. Don’t get lazy now that you are more comfortable. Always analyze and ponder your boss’ expectations, foremost. Your primary role is to provide value to your boss’ purpose. This isn’t always straightforward. I learned that my boss was more interested in how I approached problems and provided actionable ideas and answers than whether my answers were correct, or my ideas were viable to him. He didn’t want a sounding board or worker-bee but someone who managed the task and provided something that he could learn from and expand upon. Your boss may be different, so consider and learn their priorities and wind them into your work.
When the boss introduces a new concept or new information that confuses you or makes you feel naïve in knowledge (whether they’re doing it earnestly or because they need an ego boost), set aside free time to immerse yourself in the topic. Go to the local library (enjoy the experience). Head to the bookstore or download and print out information and spend some weekend hours back at that local café (enjoy the experience) — but do something other than endlessly surfing the internet to learn.
The Value of Real Paper Pages
Maybe it’s generational. I suspect I’ve got a few clicks on most of you, a decade or two on others, but learning from formats other than tablets, smartphones and computers is liberating. You’ll have no texts coming in from your friends at a bar. No Tick Tok alerts. No Insta to scroll.
I found that simply by printing out the info and visiting a spot outside of work or my home computer, I actually focused more on the topic, learned differently and found better questions to ponder further. But I’m not entirely career minded. So toward the end, head to a quiet bar, if you like, and read there. If you don’t typically like going alone, having your task with you will make it comfortable, and even a topic of conversation with new people (enjoy the experience).
Knowledge Really is Power
With your increased knowledge and insight, now you have a better idea of the additional knowledge and skills that you seek. So take a weekend or evening class, attend local seminars on the topic, find online or skills building courses and dive deeper. Your boss might even cover the bill. But if the boss doesn’t cover such expenses, invest in yourself— Like I’ve said again and again, you can’t unlearn your knew knowledge or skills (you may even earn notable certifications). Become an expert. Expertise will serve you, in one way or another, both now and in the future. Take advantage of your extra time and make the effort. It’s your Career! Add value. Enjoy.