How to Get the Most Out of Your First 3 Years of Work

If you just landed your first “real” job, congratulations!

It was probably a long journey. You made it through school. You sent out dozens of resumes. You survived a few interviews. Finally, you received an offer. And you took it.

Well done.

The first few years of your work are important for your future. Now is the time to build a foundation. If you waste these years, you will have missed a significant opportunity. You don’t want to look back on these years and wonder what could have been if you were more intentional.

Approach this early stage in your career with intentionality. Consider how you can get the most out of your first three years of work. Here are several suggestions to get your career off to a good start:

  1. Commit to reading at least two pertinent periodicals. My first job was with a bank. So I subscribed to the Harvard Business Review and The Wall Street Journal. You need to create a habit of keeping yourself informed. Of course, some of the information will not immediately apply to your work. But one day it may. And staying on top of current events and trends will help prepare for that moment.
  1. Don’t treat your job as a stepping-stone. I see this all the time. There is a danger in considering a job as just a stepping stone–poor work performance. You tend to care less about a stepping-stone job. So you don’t work hard. You become sloppy and inconsistent. And you unintentionally position yourself as one who is not ready for that job you really desire.
  1. View your job description as the bare minimum. What you typically find on a job description is the tasks necessary for you keeping your job. It shows the minimum requirements. View your job description differently than most. Assume that it is your starting point. Go above and beyond what you find on the job description. Develop a good work ethic. This will establish you as an excellent employee and potential candidate for promotion.
  1. Network like crazy. Get to know you coworkers. Get to know you superiors. Get to know others in your field. These men and women can be a significant blessing for you down the road. They eventually may be your connection to your dream job. One day, you may need someone trustworthy to hire, someone you already know. You network because you do not know what the future holds. So network like crazy.
  1. Go to conferences. These are great events for getting cutting edge information and networking.
  1. Make a book reading list. Read the books. I cannot over communicate the importance of reading. It is a common practice held by many top level leaders. Identify some important books for your work industry and future career desires. And read them.
  1. Craft a career plan. Start thinking through what you need to accomplish in order to achieve they calling you feel God has placed on your life. Identify a few goals. And map out what it would take to get there.
  1. Be smart with your money. What you do now with your money, even if it is small, can make a huge difference in the future. Avoid debt. Stay within a budget. Save for retirement. And give generously.
  1. You have a great opportunity here. There are many, many people out there who would love a redo of their first few work years. Unfortunately, time doesn’t work that way.

So take full advantage of your early work years. Create a foundation for your future career.

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