I got my first official job when I was 23, I had just graduated in Malaysia were it is almost ‘impossible’ really for ‘foreigners’ to find jobs especially without any working experience. I was lucky to get a job as a customer service representative, I was happy that I had gotten a job but to be honest hated the nature of the job. Instead of drowning in my misery I made the most of that job and in two years got promoted twice and became a team manager. Looking back, below are some of the factors that contributed to my success.

Choose your work friends wisely

This is extremely important and can make or break you. Your work friends are the people you spend time with during tea and lunch breaks, sometimes you might hang out with them after work too. You want to be associated with hardworking, punctual  peers who meet their monthly targets and not those who are always late and have poor performance. Managers observe these tiny details and once you associate yourself with a bad name it can have repercussions on your appraisal or potential promotion. Whats worse, on a day you have a genuine problem it might be classified as a behaviour problem rather than the actual cause.

Find a work idol

Your work idol is someone that you look up to and admire, they have to be more senior than you and willing to share tricks and tips to help and develop you in your journey. I remember by work ‘idol’ was a guy named Jim, he is in Australia now and well established in his career. Like me he was non-Malaysian but in just a matter of months had broken the record to be promoted from a customer service agent to a team manager in just a matter of months. I made it my mission to befriend him and learn from him and sure enough once he resigned from the company I was promoted to team manager and took over his team.

Set high expectations for yourself

Throughout my school life I was always an average student, never really outstanding in anyway. The moment I started working however I made a commitment to myself that I was no longer available for average, I decided that I would do my best and build my personal brand. It didn’t take me long pick up the skills i needed to do my job well, I constantly achieved my KPI’s and was amongst the top performers in my department, and won awards. I only achieved such success because I set high expectations for myself and refused to be average. If you’re a young person starting out, you want to do this.

Have a roadmap for your future

I mentioned how I didn’t like the customer service job, a couple of weeks after my training I had already decided that I was not going to be a customer service rep for long. I was determined to one day be a team manager and be one of the ‘bosses’ on the operations floor. I made sure my operations manager and site director knew who I was through my performance but soon realised performance alone wasn’t going to get me the promotion I wanted. I took initiatives in different departmental activities, volunteered to help out my team manager when he needed help and at the right time my promotion came. You need to set a career path for yourself and not just desire to be great at your job. Think about the future, the next company, the next move that suits your interests.

Your boss is important

Build a professional working relationship with your boss. Don’t be the shy, quiet team member that only says something when asked, show some initiative and let your boss know you exist. When I started working I had 2 bosses, my immediate team manager and my operations manager who oversew the entire department. I didn’t expect to build a close relationship with my operations manger obviously but I made it a point to greet him and smile each time he passed by, whenever I had the opportunity, maybe in the elevator, I would make some conversation with him even if its asking how his day is. With my team manager I was able to build a closer relationship with him because I reported directly to him. When vacancies opened up I’m pretty certain the relationship with my superior was a contributing factor in getting me ahead of my peers.

Starting your first job is not as scary as it sounds but not as rosy too. Using the tips I’ve shared, at 25 I was managing a team of 8-12 customer service agents, I was the only female and African amongst my peers. If I could achieve that, I’m sure you can soar high too.

Stay positive always!

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