Making your first job a success, by Daria Czajkowska

The third Triad Challenge is just around the corner. It’s where I first met Triad as an IT student studying at the University of Northampton (UoN). And it’s because the challenge is nearly upon us, that I decided to write this blog. If you are in your final year at university and thinking about your first job, then I have three pieces of advice for you:

  1. Choose your attitude (and it better be a good one)

Attitude is a game changer. Particularly at a consultancy where, in my experience, you are surrounded by smart people. Clients expect consultants to lead by example. And that’s when attitude is everything.

  • Be curious – Question everything. In a world with three-letter acronyms (affectionately known as TLAs) for almost everything, there is no such thing as a silly question. If it pops up in your thoughts and you don’t know the answer, ask someone.
  • Use your initiative – Initiative goes a long way. Don’t wait for someone to tell you what to do or how to do something. Work out how to do it, what needs to be done, and do it. It’s the sort of thing that can make you stand out, as well as help you develop a whole load of skills and confidence.
  • Listen – This is so obvious that I had to think twice about including it. But when you’re young and working with people with proven experience, you’d be foolish not to listen and learn.
  • Enjoy your work – And enjoy the company of those you work with. When it comes to making friends with colleagues, be picky. You spend a long time at work, so socialise with people who share similar values to you.
  • Smile – It makes such a difference to morale, both for you and for those you work with.
  1. Own your mistakes

“Be kind to others and be kind to yourself. After working for more than 30 years, I have come to recognise that most people come to work to try to do a good job, and the same goes for me. Mistakes will happen, but it’s rarely because someone wants to do a bad job. A little kindness can go a long way to helping people learn from their mistakes.”

Adrian Leer – Managing Director

  • Be kind to yourself – I have included this quote from our MD Adrian because it’s a good reminder that the person making the mistake isn’t doing it to be awkward. Being kind works both ways; if you’re kind to colleagues when they make a mistake, you’re likely to receive kindness when you make them too.
  • Learn from your mistakes – And don’t linger on them. It’s okay to make mistakes; just deal with them in the right way. No one is perfect. But what will differentiate you from others, is how you act afterwards. I think that acceptance is the first step. You messed up. Accept it. You can’t hide from it. However, this isn’t always easy, and you may be surprised how few people do this well.
  • Challenge yourself – Find roles or activities that push your comfort levels. Remember that pressure is a privilege.
  • Reflect on your good and bad decisions – Think about what you can learn from them.
  1. Think of your career
  • Ask for help – You won’t find many people who will say no to helping you out, especially when you are early on in your career. This can give you such a boost in terms of knowledge and direction but it also helps build connections with the right people.
  • Always learn – Read and soak up insight. “Rebel Ideas” by Matthew Syed is a superb book on how/why to think outside the box.
  • Grow your network – LinkedIn remains the most popular social network for professionals. Grow yours. Keep in touch with ex-colleagues.
  • Persevere – If you find something difficult or get frustrated because you don’t know how to do something, keep at it. This is when you learn.
  • Push – Look for signs of complacency. When something is easy, it means you know how to do it, which means your knowledge isn’t growing.
  • Don’t forget yourself – It’s OK to want to have a career in a specific field/industry, but if you find you’re not progressing or learning, don’t stick around at a company that doesn’t believe in you sufficiently to offer you these opportunities.
  • Build your career – It can be tempting to think of your first job, as, well, a job! Don’t. Think of your first job as the first step in your career. Even if you remain at the same organisation for the whole of your career, you will undoubtedly have several jobs or roles as you concertina through.

Note: The Triad Challenge will be at the University of Northampton (UoN) from the 22nd – 23rd February 2024. This event is an opportunity for final year UoN IT students to meet an IT consultancy and participate in a competition designed to simulate the types of challenges that Triad employees face.

If you have a question for Daria or want to contact the Triad team, please get in touch.