I always look forward to June. It's an exciting time of year: some of our NetHope Academy interns reach the end of their six-month IT internship and put their skills to the test at full-time employment opportunities; prospective students apply for coveted spots in future NetHope Academy classes; and our NetHope Academy team reflects on the successes and challenges of another completed class.
Last week, our NetHope Academy Program Manager Lisa Obradovich wrote an open letter to our NetHope Academy community to help those young professionals finishing, amidst or just starting the Academy journey. Her sage advice hit on many of the lessons that I had learned early on in my career. I realized that these tips weren't relevant to just these young students, but they apply to all of us - whether as a little reminder of the wisdom we were told so long ago or as a pep talk to ignite our commitment to lead honest, fulfilling careers. Below is an excerpt of the letter, as well as a small selection of tips that resonated most with me:
There is no shortage of books, blogs or advice on what to do and how to act when starting a new job. It's natural to wonder how we can start off on the right foot to be successful and happy in our new jobs. Often, we read or listen to the suggestions and think, "Of course I am doing that," or, "I would never do that." But how often do we honestly assess both our workplace behavior AND how our coworkers perceive us?
It's easy to be so focused on the task at hand that we neglect to think about all of the other things that need to happen to excel in the workplace. Taking time to periodically assess workplace habits and behavior can make a big difference in your career opportunities both now and years down the road.
We have been talking with your employers, and they have provided valuable feedback. Overall, they have very positive things to say. They have also shared input on where there is room for improvement. In that spirit, we're sharing tips to help guide you as you continue on your journey as an IT Professional:
• Be on time. Showing up late for work meetings is unprofessional and disrespectful to your colleagues. It is easy to take control of your schedule and be on time, and this is a simple thing you can do to create a positive lasting impression. One of my favorite college professors said, "To be early is to be on time. To be on time is to be late. To be late is to be left."
• Come prepared. Make sure you plan things in advance. Do you have the right equipment with you? Have you booked the right facility for training? Do you know the purpose of the meeting you are attending? Do you know what you want to get out of it? If you are traveling for an assignment, have you confirmed all of the logistics?
• Leave prepared. Take notes at every meeting you go to, and record any key discussion topics, outcomes, and action items. Get in the habit of writing a summary of meetings and recap the action items so that you have a record. This will help you hold others and yourself accountable.
• Volunteer. Offer to help people even when it isn't your job to do so. Speak up first, assist your colleagues when they need an extra hand, proactively insert yourself in situations where you want to learn more and/or can see your skills will be put to good use.
• Be nice to people. Treat them as you would like to be treated. This is the last item on the list but perhaps the most important of all. Your favorite colleagues will be the ones who are genuine and sincere in their work and their relationships with you. Remember if and when you make the decision to leave an employer that you handle it with courtesy and professionalism. Deciding to not show up one day or not give proper notice is extremely rude. Not only does this reputation stick with the intern program, but it will follow you for the rest of your career. You shouldn't be nice because it is important for future references, you should be nice because caring about the organization and the people who have invested their time and resources to help develop you as a person and a professional is the right thing to do.
What is your advice that you'd like to pass along to those just entering the workforce? We'd love to hear from you on the NetHope Facebook page.
To learn more about how NetHope helps to better prepare young ICT professionals for successful careers, visit www.nethopeacademy.org.