First jobs rarely turn out to be dream jobs. Most people, no matter how ambitious, accept that they’re going to be doing the schlep work during the early years of their career. But what happens if you can’t stomach the arduous and mundane grunt work? How is a hungry, gold-star, leadership-inclined employee like you to survive the entry-level merry-go-round?
The answer is simple — you’re going to seize every opportunity that comes your way. Here’s how to tackle an entry-level job with grace, while putting your dazzling leadership skills in the spotlight.
Knock Managerial Responsibility Out of the Park
So you are stuck in a less-than-ideal position. This does not mean that your boss wants to keep you down. Most managers gladly will let you take on a more prominent role in the organization, especially if you can tackle the tasks that keep them up at night.
Ask yourself, is there a complex new project you could supervise? Could you analyze how much money a new initiative could save the company? Could you head up a team of volunteers for a community outreach project? When you take on a task that no one else is willing to do, you raise your credibility and put yourself at the front of the line when a better role comes along.
Further Your Training
If move-up projects are hard to come by, try to locate other ways of expanding your knowledge. Many organizations will incentivize you to earn a career-relevant certification, either by giving you study leave or by paying for additional skill-set training.
If you are already over-qualified for the position you are in, take a look at your soft skills. Would you benefit from further communication skills training? Do your strategic problem-solving skills need a brush up? Research your options, and be prepared to show your boss how such training would benefit the company. Your enthusiasm will not go unnoticed — and you will get to spice up your job and alleviate some of the day-to-day boredom.
Get Help From A Mentor
Mark Zuckerberg, Bill Gates and Richard Branson didn’t huff and moan when their ideas didn’t pan out. Instead, they did what most people seeking career advancement do — they sought the advice of a mentor.
Mentors come in all shapes and sizes. Ask around, and you may find a higher-up at your organization who is willing to steer you through the entry-level abyss. If you can’t find a mentor in-house, reach out to your contacts in the industry or your alumni network.
Seeking guidance from a mentor offers numerous benefits. Recognizing that you need help shows vulnerability, respect for the knowledge of others and a willingness to learn — all of which are highly sought-after qualities. And when the time comes to apply up, you can do so with your mentor’s recommendation. They can vouch for your leadership potential, even if your work history lacks those credentials.
Play Nice With Everyone
Networking is a great way to enhance your career potential, even if the payback is not immediate. Engaging with your coworkers — everyone from the CEO to the administrative assistants — is a sure-fire way of making the right, career-boosting connections.
The best approach here is to play nice. Laying your leadership ambitions on the line might earn you the stigma of being too big for your britches. Instead, focus on being the co-worker everyone loves. Smile through the soul-crushing menial tasks, step-up to the plate, be a team player and give praise where praise is due. These are the behaviors that other people admire and wish to emulate. Not only will this behavior get you noticed, but it will also buy you total support from your bosses and peers when you eventually put yourself forward for a leadership role.
Remember, there’s no deadline for moving from entry level to the C-suite. Success is always attainable, and even if your current organization is not open to internal advancement, other employers will be. Good luck!