The First 5 Years of My Career: 5 Things I've Learned

‘Where Do You See Yourself in 5 Years?’

Bambang Ramdhan
Jul 25, 2015 · 7 min read

I sat elegantly in an HR room, accepted the question right in front of my face. It was five years ago. I actually didn’t plan anything for the next five years. But I read, so I answered the question based on the book I bought to prepare my interviews. I answered. But I didn’t really feel the thing: that feeling when you know what you will do but you don’t understand because it’s blurry as mist in the night.

Well, I am different person now than I was 5 years ago. I’ve learnt so much. And these are five things I considered as my most significant lessons during my lustrum in my career.

Confidence is must

You will not survive in this world if you don’t have confidence. I meant it. It is usual for a fresh graduate like I was who just got my first job, to feel shy and to feel unsure about what should we do in our first job. At my first company, I was lucky because I had to join trainee class for a couple of months. I met another fresh starters — that made me happy, I wasn’t the only fresh starter— with whom I went through a lot. When the company introduced us to its cultures and its work ethic, I had people around me to question things without feeling dumb, because we’re in the same place.

You’d face so many situations that could put you in a difficult situation. You’d be asked to do things you might not fully understand. Here’s your answer: YES. Say yes. Even though you don’t really know what you’re doing, saying yes can give you courage to learn more things.

It is important to make people trust you. Especially when you are a fresh starter. Saying yes also means you are ready to face challenges. Bosses love risk takers with comprehensive understanding of what they’re doing. So, it leads you to a fresh path where you will get a new lesson. Saying yes confidently encouraged me to be more adaptable to new situations. To learn something new. New skills, new point of views, new me.

Trustworthiness is a treasure

In an office, there’s no bigger treasure than being trusted by your bosses and your partners. But trustworthiness can only be earned. You cannot get it easily. It’s easy to make people trust you. You can give people candies, to befriended. You can keep their secrets, to be close to them. But in a workplace, it is somewhat different. You can make people trust you by doing the right things as an employee. You do your job and become excellent in your field. But being good and outstanding is not enough.

Every time we meet new people, we probably ask the same question, “Can I trust you?” In workplace environment, it is more important. So, how you do it? In my experience meeting so many people during my career, there are things you can do to make people trust you. First, don’t lie. Sometimes you are allowed to lie, white lies is inevitable, you know, for the greater good. But there’s differences between lying for the good of many people and for the good of yourself. Don’t lie to cover your mistakes, even if the final consequences is getting sacked, lying could destroy your precious self. When it is destroyed, it is difficult to rebuild. Or perhaps, it can’t be rebuilt.

Next thing you can do to become trustworthy is listen to others. Too many people are able to speak, but not all of them can be a good listener. Being a good listener means you have to pay attention. Gesture is important. Make eye contact, and hold it — both when you are speaking and listening. Focus and internalize what is being said to you — everyone needs to feel that they have been heard, even when you can’t give them what they are asking for.

And above all else, trust yourself. We live in a global multiplex where reciprocity is a common act among human beings. If you want to get trusted, trust people first. If you want to be respected, respect them first. It’s that easy. But what is most important, believe in yourself. It’s nonsense if you want people to like you, but you don’t like yourself. It’s bullshit if you need people to trust you, but you don’t trust yourself.

Work ethic is important

This is probably the most boring lesson you would hear in a workplace. But this is really important. Work ethic in every company is different depends on the cultures of the company. But in general term, it’s just the same. You have to work on time, never wear something inappropriate, don’t insult others, never gossip, and so on.

Analogically, work ethic is like a basket of character points. When you play a game, you must earn character points in order to upgrade your ability. In a workplace, it shapes yourself. Your nice attitude towards your partners can be your point to reach a higher level. Your strict discipline towards your daily job will bring you a better place in your company. It sounds cliche, but it’s true. This is what I’ve learnt during my five years of my career: workers with bad work ethic will never survive.

Think Strategically

Our lives is more than a plan. Sometimes, things go the way we don’t expect to. But in a workplace, leaving your life unplanned is a huge mess that could ruin your office existence. That’s why we have to think strategically. You must know what you’re going to do professionally. You have make a blue print of your life’s work. Let’s admit it, we will always face hard times in our office. If you know what to do, you’ll never get lost in the middle of your job. I don’t figure out everything in life. But thinking strategically makes me feel safe. So, how to do it?

First, keep saving money. The more money you can save, the more secure your position in your professional world. When the time comes from for you to rise, having a nice to be checked account in bank will put you away from insecurity. Second, make your goals. What will you do after working five years? What should you do if you stay in a same place in your company after three years? Make your goals, so you won’t get lost in your own paths. Last but not least, list your priorities. A thing must be regarded as more important than another. It is logic to aside everything else when it comes to your important job. But somehow you have to make your own list of priority. in my opinion, there are four points than you can use to make a nice priority.

  1. It’s important and it’s demanding. When you come to this term, put this thing in your first seat of your priority list.
  2. It’s not important, but it’s demanding. There are so many unimportant things happened in our lives. But some of them are demanding, bad things could happen if you don’t do them immediately.
  3. It’s important, but it’s not demanding. Important things can come late. They can be delayed if they don’t demand your immediate time.

No matter how bad you think you are, have at least a skill

I wasn’t good at mathematics. I was one of the least students when it came to the subject. But I wanted to be good at something, so people wouldn't look down on me. So, I decided to be a good student at English subject. Moreover, I loved it, I still do, and I am still learning. I decided to be good at public speaking, to communicate well, and it brought me to study Communications. And I was right. That’s the right choices I made.

That’s what I thought when I was in seventh grade of junior high school. I’ve found what I am capable of. Don’t get too busy thinking about what you aren’t capable, be skillful at , at least, one thing. In a workplace, this is the only significant thing that differentiates us from another employee. If you’re really good, you’ll stand out.

Being skillful demands a consistent act of learning. Don’t stop to learn new things. Be adaptive person. Be loyal to yourself. That’s the key to your own success.

Five years is not a short time, but I didn’t feel it’s a long time too. Time passes by before our eyes. So, if I could back to the room where I was being interviewed by a tough HR manager about what I would see myself in the next five years, I would answers differently.

In my process of becoming who I am today, I went through a lot. In my opinion, the most important thing during the first course in your career is the process itself. The end may be bad, the process may be painful. But trust me, there will always be a good lesson in every new journey.

Bambang Ramdhan

Written by

A man who loves to write.

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