If you were born between the mid-1990s to the early 2000s, you’re a Gen Z. In 2020, you are most likely a fresh graduate or almost out of university. Perhaps you’re even already in the first few years of your full-time job.
After the first few years of our job pass by, we may arrive at a crossroad: to continue in this industry, or to venture into a completely new field? For some, they take the road less travelled and start a new business from the ground up.
All these questions are all part of career development, and if you are asking those questions, give yourself a pat on the back! This whole adulting thing may seem daunting when we start, and we may feel like giving up every other day. We are here to remind you of four reasons why you should challenge yourself to develop your career, whichever it may be.
4 Reasons for Career Development
1. Level up your skillset
It’s likely that you chose your career based on your passion. What’s great about extending our passion into our career is that we are highly motivated to acquire the practical skills and knowledge in the field.
When you are motivated in your job, you will be better able to see every challenge as a learning curve. Hence, you are constantly reaching milestones in your career. Expanding your skills can be done by trying out every project, grabbing every opportunity you get, and attempting new tasks.
You can also learn from your superiors. As you work for them, you may be able to reflect and identify your gaps in skills. More often than not, they will happily teach you if you ask. Developing your career gives you the platform to practise those hard skills and see if you can deliver real results at work.
One more great way to learn more skills is to participate in job training, workshops, and taking additional certifications. Although these opportunities will take up your weekends, they can give you a new perspective and be an invaluable part of your growth. Plus, acquiring more skills can increase your job competitiveness and make your resume look more impressive.
2. Enhance your soft skills
These days, it’s very easy to overlook the importance of having soft skills. We’ve heard these words so many times that it doesn’t carry any meaning anymore, let alone in this highly digital age. However, soft skills are a defining factor of being hired and favoured by employers.
If we can prepare a speech or presentation, does that make us good communicators?
If we could deliver a group project in university, does that mean we are team players? Not exactly.
Academically-focused schools and universities may not have prepared us with step-by-step guides for developing soft skills. It takes more than a role-playing situation to really teach us soft skills we can only gain on-the-job.
As you progress in your career, you will start to realize that there are some inevitable challenges you have to face. Conflicts can be ignored, sure. However, when you take your career development seriously, you’ll be able to see conflicts as opportunities to propel you forward and make you more adaptable. Career development forces you to learn and practise soft skills to overcome these problems more effectively. Soft skills like negotiation, communication, and emotional intelligence will help you better navigate social situations inside and outside the workplace.
3. Contribute to your community
The work that you are doing, in any job, can be for a good cause. Remember when we were younger and we aspired to solve world problems like poverty and hunger? Now, we can do that effectively. Work isn’t all about the salary, or about advancing your career to the top of the pyramid. It’s also about making effective changes to society.
How can you do this? First, get involved in your field beyond the four walls. With all the information at our fingertips, find out how other people in your industry are leading change to solve problems. This could be an issue that is very close to your heart. Then, when you are able to see what others are doing, you can leverage on your job experience and perspective to solve those similar problems in your community. A brilliant example of this is seeing all the unique ways different companies have helped in the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic.
Problems will always exist, but it is within your power to solve them. Mahatma Gandhi said it best: “The difference between what we do and what we are capable of doing would suffice to solve most of the world’s problems.”
4. Utilize your network
Along your career journey, you are going to meet many people related and unrelated to your field. Conferences, workshops, dinner parties, and corporate activities are great ways to expand your network and meet people outside your daily lunch break circle. Speaking to others is a great way to exchange ideas when you are seeking insight into a current issue. On top of that, keeping a solid network of people in the industry will help you when you are looking for a switch or a new job.
You never know what opportunities could come from maintaining strong professional relationships. Expanding your network will increase your visibility as an individual in the ecosystem. You must, of course, be able to offer your expertise and share your knowledge in order for mutual trust to develop in the relationship. When this happens, opportunities will come to you without having to search high and low for them.
As you consider further factors in your career, speak to a mentor, a parent, or an elder person. Listen to their stories of their first few years of work. What you might learn from those stories is that career development is not just a part of climbing the corporate ladder, but it can also be an exciting journey to go on. Imagine all the challenges you’ll face, knowing yourself a bit more along the way, and meeting people you have never imagined! No matter which field you are venturing into, you’ll make your life worthwhile by placing career growth as your compass.
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