The below worked for me, maybe they will for you too!
Pick the right field at the right time.
Spending a bit of time analyzing the field you want to learn and pursue is time well spent. Choosing a career field that will have opportunities when you are ready to enter, has terrific income potential, is in a growing area or industry and also has ways for you to advance and move around inside the field should be your goal.
When I decided to go back to work in the early 1980′s, that is exactly what I did. I researched what industries were hiring the most people, checked out the pay and read about what might happen in the field in coming years. As a result, I chose to learn computer programming. Later I advanced into leading projects and finally into managing people and departments.
Don’t be afraid to move around.
The more flexible you can be in the types of jobs within the industry and in the types of companies in which you are willing to work and in the physical locations to which you are willing to move – the more opportunities for pay and advancement and job satisfaction you will find.
I moved from company to company 3 times during my computer career. I not only sought higher pay, I also looked for companies that had more or different tools and processes and types of applications. I started in a mutual fund company, then moved to an airline and ended up in a financial services company. Even inside each company, I chose to move between departments and applications. For example, at the airline, I started out doing project lead work for the flight scheduling department and moved to another area that did human resources work using a third party software application.
Often, one company will have many different areas to which you can apply your effort and your knowledge and learn new techniques, make new connections and absorb new tools.
Work hard, work smart and make connections.
Be prepared to give good effort for your income. Productive employees are noticed. Productive employees are given more opportunities. Productive employees are eventually rewarded with more money or perks. Don’t think your boss doesn’t notice when you are in the coffee room more than you should be. Put down your cell phone and tablet and focus on what you were hired to do. Don’t spend the day talking to friends on the company phone or surfing the net or online shopping.
As a manager, just by walking around the office, I could see who was focused on work and who wasn’t. I could also tell by results. Those who weren’t offered excuses, those who were showed results!
Smart workers make every effort to contribute to the company bottom line. Be aware of how your project does that and use that awareness to focus on the parts of it that will bring fruition to reduced expenses or increased revenue or greater client satisfaction. Look around at what is going on in your area and at your level to find ways to suggest cost reduction or new products or services that will contribute to that bottom line. Some companies have quality improvement programs. Often these provide a formal method for you to initiate suggestions for projects (or removal of projects) to affect the bottom line. Be prepared to offer well thought out, cost effective suggestions to these types of programs. Better yet, get to know your boss(es), so you can find ways to directly suggest to them. They will come to realize that you are one of the few employee’s actually thinking about the good of the company.
As you move around inside the company, you will naturally get to know many different people in the organization – at multiple levels. Stay in touch – have lunch, participate with them in company activities or volunteer for special committees or projects that cross departmental lines. You would be surprised at how many of these people will move to new companies or organizations in the future, possibly providing you with that all important contact in a company to which you want to apply!
I was fortunate enough to land a special project that affected an entire division and in which I got to work closely with multiple executive level folks in the company. This one project did wonders for my visibility in the company and increased the opportunities I found in the future.
Don’t forget to join industry organizations in your area and be an active participant in them as well. Also seek opportunities to attend industry conferences and training sessions. These are all great ways to learn how other companies handle some of the things you do or will do as well as to build your contact network.
I was lucky enough to get to attend computer industry conferences, which combined learning with networking and marketing. The company even paid my way. Several employees were often selected to go and we had the chance to not only get to know each other better, but also the opportunity to meet many different people from across the world in many different companies.
What are your suggestions for great things to do for your career?