How to Be a Career-Driven Professional

In the early Spring of 2013, my husband and I moved to Texas. While we absolutely love it here, the process of transferring my Pennsylvania teaching certification to Texas was super stressful.

Right after Christmas Break, I got an email from HR saying that I had about one month to take all three TExES tests, which are pretty much the PRAXIS in Texas form.

Yeah, one month. Let’s say that I was less than thrilled, but I took it with stride because I wanted my contract for next school year to (1) be on time with everyone else and (2) actually be my contract (I was told if I didn’t get them passed in time, I would risk not getting my contract renewed for next school year).

So over the course of 5 weeks I was stressing, not sleeping much, and studying my butt off to pass all of these tests. Once I officially passed all of the tests, I applied for and was given my official Texas Teaching Certification.

So why am I telling you all of this? What in the world does it have to do with the title of this blog post (being a career-drive professional)? I recently chatted with Joe from TheLadders, which is a comprehensive career resource for professionals.

Joe was curious about advice I would give to a fresh college graduate and any wisdom I had to share about the journey of finding my career.

I absolutely love the career I’ve chosen, so of course I wanted to share some tips on how to a career-driven professional.

You’ve just graduated and now it’s time to find a job. Sure you’ve got credentials, but you really don’t have that much experience, so don’t put all of your apples in one basket.

You aren’t going to get your dream job and make large 6-figures your first year out (if you do, you’re extremely lucky). You need experience to move up, and that’s pretty much what your early 20’s are for.

It is frustrating, but also liberating… which brings me to Tip #2.

With any huge title comes an enormous amount of responsibility, which is why starting out fresh at the beginning isn’t so awful.

You’ll have responsibilities at work, you might work more than 40 hours per week, and you might be the “Bob, run to the coffee shop to get me a venti cappuccino” guy, but it’s okay.

You know why?

You’re building credentials, you’re essentially marketing your abilities to be a team player, you’re building your professional network, and the best part… you’re getting paid to do so.

Have you ever heard the phrase “work hard, play harder”?! Of course you have, and it is absolutely 100% truthful.

Work hard at your job, and some days, work even harder than what’s expected of you based on your job description. You’re probably rolling your eyes at this point and thinking “Yeah, okay! I don’t get paid to do X, Y, and Z.”

Let me let you in on a little secret… it is those little things, those above and beyond things that get you promoted. And what does a promotion lead to? More pay and eventually a larger promotion down the line.

What you do now directly affects the rest of your life, so start working hard now.

You may be busting your behind at work, so when it comes to leaving work at work, leave it. Let all of your work problems stay at work. That’s where they belong anyway.

You deserve time to chill and relax in the comfort of your own home. You also deserve a vacation at least 1x a year. Take it and don’t just stay at home. Go somewhere and enjoy your time off. This will save you your sanity at work, I promise.

There are so many other tips I could give you, but I want to leave you with this really good article I read a few days ago.

If you were going to give career advice to a fresh college graduate based on your experiences what would it be? Would it be to settle for nothing less than something they are passionate about? Would you tell them to not put too much stock into their first job? Or would you tell them to travel as much as they can before starting a career?

What advice do you have? Tell us in the comments below!


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