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By Audrey Korir

What are a few unique pieces of career advice that nobody ever mentions?

Having a Bachelor’s Degree did not prepare me for the real life that was waiting for me outside the walls of university.  In fact, it was the complete opposite.

All the knowledge I had acquired was not enough to help me navigate the challenges that came with finding a job and figuring out what career path I wanted to follow.

Truth is; there is still a huge gap between what we learn in school and what the job industry demands of us.

Here are some pieces of career advice that I wish someone had told me while I was still in campus.

1. Do everything, one step at a time;

Rome was not built in a day. A unique piece of career advice which no one will ever tell you is that you must not be someone who is an overachiever trying to get to the top without having started from the bottom. Everything happens in its own time, stay positive and plan for the future while also ensuring that you are not counting your chickens before they are hatched.

2. Figure out where you need to fit in and where you can stand out;

Your biggest asset is your unique blend of skills, experience and personality. There is no one in this world identical to you. Don’t undervalue that for any amount of money. Figure out what kind of work you want to be doing and what kind of environment will optimize your strengths, and focus on finding that with everything you have. You will not only find a job you enjoy, but a career that will give you a sense of purpose.

3. Work Smarter, not harder

Everyone has their own definition of this phrase, but it generally means using your thinking skills to minimize tasks and extra steps, so that you use your time wisely and more effectively to get things done quickly. You don’t want your job to get in the way of your personal life. Create a balance.

4. Find a job that will teach you the most and not just earn you the most

When I finished campus, I got an internship at a well-known media house.  Even though the pay was not substantial, the experience was worthwhile.  Thanks to that experience I was able to secure a permanent job at a private firm. What should this tell you? Find a job that will ensure you grow as a professional.

5. Workplace culture matters

You could love the actual work you do but if you can’t get along with the various personalities that you interact with on a daily basis, you’re not going to enjoy your job. Do you work better alone? Do you work better within the confines of an 8–5 schedule? Or perhaps you enjoy working from home where you are more at ease? Whatever it is, figure out what works for you.

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6. Become Financially Literate

This is one thing I wish I fully understood before I dived into the career world. It is very important to form habits that will help you remain financially secure. You don’t want to be that person who squanders all their salary only to have debts constantly plaguing them.  Budget, Invest, Avoid Debt and create multiple streams of income. Once you understand how to use the money you make from your job, you’ll be less stressed, make better career decisions, take calculated risks, and feel like you can go after the things that make you happy.

7. People don’t just leave companies, they leave bosses.

Find one who believes in you and is not afraid of helping you grow in your career.  How do define a good or great boss?  In my opinion a great or good boss is one who does not frustrate you, one who values you and is going to encourage you to do the best that you can do at all costs.

8. Ask Questions

Asking questions is not a sign of weakness, it shows that you care about your work and want to deliver the best results. So do ask as many questions as you want to rather than making mistakes.

9. Your work is a reflection of who you are

Heard this before? At all points in time, it is important that you realize that every bit of work which you give up in your name is a reflection of you. You getting that promotion or salary increase are all dependent on the work you do, so ensure that you do it to the best of your ability.

10. Avoid those employment gaps

You might be forced to leave a job for various reasons. The job might be too stressful; you feel like they do not appreciate you enough or you cannot work in the negative office environment. All these are justified reasons, but having huge gaps in between jobs is not a good look on your CV.  You must show that you are someone who is committed, has steadily grown and achieved a lot over time.

Key takeaway,

Your journey is yours alone. Don’t compare yourself to anyone. Take the time to figure out what you want and understand that,the beauty of going through challenging experiences in your career life lies in the lessons learnt. I hope the above few unique pieces of career advice help you find a job or career that gives you a complete sense of purpose.

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