When I talk to young starters about their career choices, I find the story of the three little pigs as a fitting illustration. The big bad wolf effortlessly pulled down the first two pigs’ houses which were made of straws and sticks respectively. However, the brick house built by the third pig was able to withstand the huffs and puffs of the wolf. From my experience, progressing from an intern to a community professional, I have learned the importance of building a wolf-proof career and would be sharing practical principles to help others in their career journeys.
I am a global award-winning community professional. I am the Programs and Community manager at Ingressive for Good. I co-started the first tech community at my school and the community for community managers in Africa called Community for Africa. While I celebrate these milestones with my head high, I acknowledge the steady steps and building process which brought me here.
The Process Prior to Getting a Job
Before getting the dream job, the first step is to learn. Personal commitment to gaining knowledge related to your field of expertise will set you apart when you eventually get a job. Carry out personal studies to fine-tune your skillset, seek mentorship from professionals in your field, and practice the work ethics that would be required for you in a real work environment.
A key aspect of learning is in embracing the lessons from failure. I consider failure to be a step towards success that cannot be skipped. You cannot escape failure and you shouldn’t be afraid of it. I failed at a lot of stuff including C ++, data science, and other programming courses. Failing in these areas did not deter me from pursuing my passion. Building on the lessons from my failures, I came to realize how much I enjoy community management as opposed to programming. If I didn’t learn from my failures, I won’t be exceptional in my field as I am today.
Also, before you start a job, you should volunteer and care for the community in your niche. You’ll need these experiences to be able to get a job or the interest of an employer. By caring for the community, you’ll be able to expand your network and add quality skills to your portfolio.
Focus on working for value and not for free. Working for value means that you’re very super focused in your micro search. You should look out for places where you can work and add to your portfolio or experience such that any employer that sees your CV will be willing to hire you. That way, you don’t consider yourself working for free but working for value.
Steps to Take while on the Job
I have highlighted certain things to keep in mind before you get a job outside your internship or volunteer experience, but then, how about after you get a job? First, just as you did before the job, you have to keep learning and implementing immediately. This is something I learned after a couple of years on the job. I was learning a lot and failed to implement the lessons immediately and this limited me in certain ways. Pay close attention to the lessons you’re learning and be sure that they reflect in your effort and output at work.
In addition, seek mentorship. I consider mentorship as having human superheroes to assist you through the work process. When I started at Ingressive, I had the assistance of several members of Staff to ease me into the workplace experience. Ayo, who was assigned to onboard me into Ingressive, was always willing to share relevant courses with me. He played the role of an office mentor and tutored me on how to communicate with other colleagues. Sean and Blessing, Co-founders of Ingressive were always encouraging me to level up. You must recognize the presence of individuals like this as an asset and take advantage of their company as much as you can.
Finally, talk about your work shamelessly. Mention your contributions at work on social media platforms and share the lessons you’re learning. This helps you to get the network and community interested in what you’re doing. By being mentors to people in the industry you also build confidence.
As with building a house, building a career is a series of steps that cannot be done shabbily or hurried past. Be patient with yourself during this process. Love your journey and celebrate your small wins. Each step in the right direction makes up the small bricks that build on each other to become your dream mansion.
Story By Haneefah Abdulrahman Lekki, Programs and Community Manager at Ingressive For Good