Getting your foot through the front door is no guarantee that your path to success has already been set in stone. For the young management trainee, the journey has only just begun.
Want to make the most of your time? Then pick up on these tips on how to succeed in your programme.
BE THE ‘GO TO’ GIRL (OR GUY)
Do not regard any task, no matter how menial, as below you. If your first assignment is to make coffee for visitors, then make them the best coffee you can. Don’t complain about having to photocopy the training manuals or gripe about being constantly picked to write the meeting minutes. These are mini lessons on their own. Nothing helps break the ice than a great cup of coffee. In business, it’s the first step to closing a deal. As for being privy to the meeting minutes, where else can you get up close to a real-life discussion on an upcoming marketing campaign? Press the panic button only if you end up doing nothing but making coffee and photocopying a month later!
WATCH WHAT YOUR SAY
Start practising diplomacy from Day One. Don’t engage in gossip, stay away from office politics, and do not make comparisons and comment on inadequacies. Learn how to work with what you have, and find win-win situations that will work in favour for both parties. Remember that there were others before you who have worked very hard to put the organisation where it is today.
SPREAD THE LOVE
Make friends with everybody, including the cleaning lady who empties your trash. Being cliquish only serves to isolate your experience to one single narrow aspect. Be nice to the clerk who processes the documentation for she can be your most valuable ally when you need to rush out an invoice or a purchase order. Always be respectful to the senior staff. Though they may be nowhere as qualified as you are in academic terms, they certainly have the edge of experience which you have none of. These are the very people who can give you sound advice when you run into a brick wall.
CONNECT ON THEIR RULES
Do learn to adapt to the cultures within the organisation. If a department that you are currently training with is predominantly Chinese educated for example, take the trouble to learn up a few favourite catch phrases in Cantonese or Mandarin. If you know that one of the favourite past times of the purchasing department is football after working hours, ask if you can play reserve some time and show up for practices. This is one of the great ways to create deep and lasting connections with your colleagues.
In the first few months, the exposure to the various departments and classroom sessions will be a dizzying experience. Make it a point to keep a personal log of your day so that you can keep track of all you have learned. When in doubt, make sure to clear it by referring to a senior or research the topic at the learning centre as soon as possible.
Be serious about your work. Be punctual and respect deadlines. Make meticulousness and detail your hallmarks. Before handing in any result, check and re-check. Be your own judge on work quality. While it is alright to ask for feedback, remember that it will also require time and effort from others. In today’s fast-paced world, workloads can be heavy so learn to trust yourself.
Do not falter in the face of uncertainty. If you have been asked to set up and man a promo booth at a shopping mall for the weekend, jump at the chance. Get help if you are unsure of how to go about it but never, never utter the cursed words, “I don’t know”, or worse, “Sorry, I am not free”.
ASK LOTS OF QUESTIONS
At the same time, do not plough ahead like you know it all. Learn the hierarchy of an organisation, and find out who you should report to. Find out what the company procedures are when it comes to official matters. Again, ask if you are unsure. The golden rule is when in doubt, do not proceed.
KNOW YOUR INDUSTRY
Always keep a pulse on the latest developments in your field. Be a voracious reader on all subjects that are related to your field. Be active with groups and communities that you think may help you gain additional exposure.
MAKE FRIENDS WHENEVER YOU CAN
And for god’s sake, organise those business cards! You may not think that a business card from a nightclub deejay will be important now, but three years down the line when he becomes a famous personality and you need him to be a spokesman for your product launch, it will be.
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