While in high school, test-drive what you think you know about yourself. Take the time to do the following:
- Research career opportunities and earning potential
- Get a part-time job as closely related to the career as possible
- Seek internships that will allow you to build skills
- Volunteer to get experience
- Take advantage of job-shadow experiences
- Take advantage of classes available in high school or online
Once you get your first job, look for opportunities to keep learning and growing. Seek opportunities to fix problems and fill gaps that will help the organization save money, make more money, or be more efficient.
Promotions are more accessible than most think. Do the following, and you will not have any competition. Often, employers already know who will get the job before it is posted.
- Be reliable
- Be on time
- Work hard
- Be a team player
- Communicate well in writing and verbally
- Have a great attitude
- Be easy to supervise
- Do what is required for the next step
Sometimes, you will be overlooked for a promotion you feel you should have received. Sometimes, others do not see us the way we see ourselves, and their view may be more accurate. Sometimes, we are not as good as we think, or we do a poor job in one critical area, and we need to be honest with ourselves about it. Then there are times when there is a better opportunity for us. And sometimes, we are being treated unfairly. My good friend Carla Kaiser told me her father would say, “Life is fair because it is, at times, unfair to everybody.” I found that to be excellent advice.
Think Long Term
Take the time to map out your next steps.
Practice. It takes approximately 10 years and 10,000 hours to master your craft.
After you master your craft, everything will be easier, and your decisions will be better. Look for the area you love most about your job and work to specialize in that role. Doing what you love will dramatically increase your value in the marketplace and dramatically improve your earnings. The brain surgeon or cardiologist makes substantially more money than the family doctor.
Get a Mentor or Coach
It has been said that mentors press decades into days. The best way to learn is to find someone who has done what you want to do and ask him to share his recipe for success. A mentor or coach can give your craft a good recipe for success and improve your earnings.