Start young. Someone I know used to use this sentence a lot of times, “The successful people woke up early, yet I woke up late”. In short, he was expressing the fact that he needed to put more effort to achieve his goals, because he started late. To lay a good foundation for a fulfilling career, you have to start early. When you are young, you have the luxury of exploration, learning and building a strong career foundation.
Be curious. Read books, papers and blogs that relate to your passion. Parents should always encourage children to read not only to pass exams but also outside their school work. One should have a lifelong learning process. The more you read, the more exposure you will gain and the more confidence you will have.
Have clear goals. If you don’t know what you want, no one is going to help you figure it out. I know it is too much to ask of young people straight from school to make their goals clear, but at least you should have an idea of what you want and put it in writing. That way, you will be able to articulate it more clearly when you are requesting for mentor-ship of some sort.
Have mentors. There are those people who you always look up to. Have a list of people you would want to learn from. Research on them, what they do, what they like and what they need. I’ll talk about what they need later first, let’s discuss the importance of mentors. If you get a good mentor, you will learn their work ethic, their values and also get advice from them. Reach out to the mentors, but don’t get discouraged by rejections. Keep trying. Some people are just genuinely busy and may not want to add extra responsibilities to their already packed schedules. This brings me to the point I mentioned earlier, what does your mentor need?
What value are you adding? Everyone, no matter how young, can add value to someone’s life. There is something that you are good at and can offer to your mentor. You can for instance help them with their social media, website or errands. Use that to pitch your idea. Life is always a give and take, and if you play your cards right, you might just warm a potential mentor’s heart.
Be willing to work for free. When you are building a career that matters to you, you have to be willing to volunteer. Think of what you can offer to a person rather than what you can get. Mostly when we are still students, we like to think of how we can make money to get us through the campus life. Most students would not want to do free work. This mentality will almost always curtail your progress towards achieving your career goal.
Here’s an interesting Ted Talks video on four ways to design your own learning.
About the author
Juliet Otieno is the Brand and Social Media Lead at Eneza Education. She is trained in journalism and Public Relations and is a blogger who likes to play with words.