How to Make Your Job Work for You

Alli Kelly

In my final semester of college, I took some time to reflect on my goals from graduation forward. This introspective period was vital for my uncovering of what would influence these decisions. I asked myself: Was it money? A healthy work/life balance? A quick commute? It boiled down to money. I had worked three, sometimes four jobs to pay my way through college. I was tired of struggling. With that said, I chose to go into the corporate world, recognizing I would get a prettier paycheck. What school didn’t prepare me for was the way the corporate world operates. 

Over the last five and a half years, I’ve learned many important lessons, mainly painful and frustrating, that I think are worth sharing. That way, if you’re experiencing something similar, you know you’re not alone. 

Take responsibility for your career. 

Regardless of the career paths, development programs, and conversations you have with your boss about getting promoted, you need to show up and do the work. If you want to see your career aspirations come to fruition, you have to make them happen. It’s, of course, crucial to utilize those programs and contacts - however - this is your path. You have to acknowledge that no one will ever care as much as you do. 

Stay true to yourself.  

A few years ago, I interviewed for an internal role that I thought I had in the bag. I had the necessary experience, good relationships, and a hungry drive to sink my teeth into that position. Long story short: I didn’t get the job. When I asked my boss why, she cautiously replied, “the manager thinks you lack humility.” As an empath and someone who is painfully self-aware, I was stunned. 

This statement haunted me for months and sadly changed the way I conducted myself at work. I found myself floundering and not performing at my usual level. One day it hit me that this person clearly didn’t know the real me.

I got my head back in the game and started acting like myself again. From that moment, I promised myself I would never change my standards and work ethics just because one person has a different opinion of me, and this attitude has benefited me greatly.

It’s okay to disagree with your superiors.

This is something that took me a long time to get comfortable with. I used to think that if I didn’t agree with my manager’s opinions, that I missed a point. I didn’t. I am a different person with different experiences and a different outlook on life. 

And, in reality that makes me valuable. What happens to a company with employees who all think the same? They tend to struggle and are not living up to the current standards and trends. Diverse opinions are unmistakably necessary to fuel innovation and creativity. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

It’s normal to outgrow your company. 

An appalling statement I once heard at work is that anyone who leaves our company is a “reject.” What an awful thing to say about an individual. Not every company is the perfect fit for every person and vice versa. It is startling to me to think that because someone wants to grow and take on a new challenge, that makes them “not worthy” or “not good enough”. Don’t let leaving your company make you feel like a failure if it’s no longer a good fit for you. You shouldn’t feel guilty about continuing on your own path.

Knowing what makes you tick: Assessing Priorities.

  1. Which is more important to you: the work you’re doing or the boss you have?
  1. Do you work to get paid, or to cultivate friendships and find fulfillment?
  1. Is receiving external recognition for your work essential to you or is your own satisfaction enough?

For example, when my fiancé was looking for a new role, he knew he needed appropriate leadership. It was important to him to have a manager that would help develop and support him because he was a newbie in the corporate world. When I made my last switch, it was really about the position. I had a phenomenal superior who supported me in every aspect but, I knew that even meaningful leadership was not cutting it if I wasn’t in love with the day-to-day routine. 

Many of us learned that the key to success at work is the right degree and skills. Yes, there will be prerequisites for your job. What will make you successful, however,  is having a good understanding of the points mentioned above. It’s important to stay true to who you are, but you also have to know how to play the game.

Alli Kelly

"Feminism is for everyone. We all need to take an active part in deconstructing the way the patriarchy has shaped us as women. Get educated, get out there, and make a difference for yourself and your sisters."

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