5 ways to feel accomplished in an entry level role
Most people I know right now are working in an entry level role or are going to, very soon. As freshers graduating from colleges and university programs, it’s not shocking that no one’s going to offer us C-suite positions (gasp!). Even if the roles are really good and you do have a lot you can learn from them (which is the case for a lot of people, and certainly for myself) it’s easy to feel bogged down when you compare yourself to other people in your company or when you compare your work to theirs. Suddenly, you start questioning yourself and might feel like you’re not making as much of a difference as you’d hoped to. However, these years are the fundamental years for our careers — careers which are 30–40 year long marathons. And there’s so much to be learned and done! This makes it super important to break free from any negative mindsets holding you back from killing it at your entry level job.
Here are 5 tips to feel accomplished and proficient in an entry level job.
Define the scope of your role
Sure, as an entry level job your role might involve editing reviews on the company’s site, or maybe it’s mostly data entry for reports sent to other companies. But is that all that you can do in the role? Beyond the tasks you were hired for, in most cases it’s up to you to go beyond it — if you want to, that is. You might not be in a position to craft a department-level strategy for the coming quarter, but you can always start small if you’re unsure. Take up team building activities or try to work on a small process to make everyone’s life easier. It’s also great to incorporate aspects of what you love into your role. I highly recommend reading this Harvard Business Review article on “Turning the job you have into the job you want” for some inspiration on this.
This will help you get out of the mindset that your work is just limited to the bullet points in your job description.
Don’t downplay your efforts
Okay, so maybe I’m not working on potentially providing internet access to millions of people, or writing code for Google’s next big product launch — but if I start comparing my work to everything out there, I’ll start losing sight of the work I put in. In most entry level roles, it can be easy to dismiss our work as something anyone can do, or as a colleague of mine put it, “Something a smart monkey could also do” but that’s probably not true. Stop downplaying your effort and putting yourself down by comparing yourself to other people higher up in the organization. Take the time to acknowledge the hard work you put in. Keep track of your accomplishments. Make a note of positive comments that come your way — no really, open a blank document right now and start putting down your achievements (both big and small) along with positive comments from other people in your office.
Act like you’re already on the next level
This is on similar lines as my first point. Many people are eager to get promoted or move on to bigger roles when they start off in an entry level role. At times, it’s the fuel that keeps people motivated. If that’s what you’re eyeing too, it’s a given that you have to excel in the tasks you were hired for. After that, responsibilities won’t just fall our laps, we have to make it happen. This includes a mindset shift of looking at things from a different perspective. Observe people higher up in your department and organisation. Make mental notes on how they conduct themselves. How do they react when presented with bad news? How do they work on problems? How do they identify problems? What sort of questions do they typically ask in meetings? Try to adopt a similar mindset and talk to them about their work. Incorporate these within your own role or the way you manage yourself in the workplace. It’s a great way to expand your role and also work towards your larger goals.
Have a side project that challenges and excites you
If your sense of accomplishment is tied to just one thing in your life (like your job), it becomes quite sensitive. So say you have a bad week at work, where you start questioning your role, why you’re doing what you’re doing and so on. This can make you feel crappy all around. But, if you’re invested in something on the side; something that’s teaching you new skills, or feeding your creative side, you can feel great about it! It can give you a boost of confidence and accomplishment which will seep into your job too.
Seek feedback frequently and actively
Reach out to people on your team, your management and your peers and ask them for feedback. How will this help? Well, if it’s positive feedback, then that a boost of motivation for you right there. If it’s constructive criticism or advice for the future, you can come up with a plan to work on it. This will reinforce the fact that you’re in role where you can improve and develop yourself. Just as a heads up though, most people are reluctant to share negative feedback because they might fear a defensive/emotional reaction. That’s why it’s important to use your words and body language to convey that you’re very receptive to whatever they’re going to say. You might want to give them some time to think about it so as not to blindside them.
Hope this helps! Do let me know what you think and if you found it useful, please share it with other people in similar situations. :)