“Don’t go around saying the world owes you a living. The world owes you NOTHING. It was here first.” ~Mark Twain
Why would someone hire you?
Understanding the real world of work: 3 secrets to your success
The first secret to getting a great job and building a financially rewarding career is to understand that you need to be contributing to “the bottom line” (success/profit) every day. Unless your employer is better off with you than before you were hired, you probably are not needed. If what you are doing does not require you to think, analyze, make decisions, collaborate with co-workers and/or customers and make things happen, it is possible that a robot can do the job. Here is the pertinent question: what have I done today to contribute to the success of the organization and make it more profitable? Your personal success and financial gain can only be realized if your employer gets there first.
The next secret is to equip yourself with the right skills and knowledge. Enroll in a college program for which graduates are in demand. Engineering Technology programs produce graduates that are always in demand. Engineering technicians are essential for much of the work that must be done right here in the USA from power generation to building roads, bridges or buildings to manufacturing. Get really good at understanding how systems work, with hands-on technology, and with trouble-shooting and problem solving. You will be in demand.
Did you know that 80% of people who fail on the job fail due to lack of interpersonal skills— not lack of technical skills? It should not be a surprise that the last secret is to exhibit attitude-related behaviors that employers expect and reward:
• Take responsibility for yourself
• Contribute to others’ success
• Put customers first
• Be a “team player”
• Volunteer and show some initiative
• Follow the rules
• Work the hours you’re paid for
• Exceed expectations
• Keep your commitments
• Get with change
• Be considerate of tohers
• Don’t “Whine” or spread negativity
• Give, and earn, respect
• Embrace diversity
• Keep learning
• Ask for feedback
• Be patient
• Be appreciative
• Think “safety”
• Think “health” Look your best Keep the boss informed
• Act like an “owner”
• Focus on the big 2: increase revenue, decrease costs
• Perform with ethics and integrity
Starting in high school is perfect. Sign up for classes that expand your experiences and thinking beyond the core required subjects. Take advantage of dual credit when you can so that you earn college credit while still in high school. Be strategic in choosing your electives. Try anything available that involves hands-on technology or applied science. See what you like and what you seem to be good at doing. Math, science, technology, and engineering (STEM)-based careers have the greatest demand for workers and pay the best. STEM-based career choices are growing daily, moving into new and emerging technology fields that did not exist just a few years ago. You can be on the cutting edge for the future just by choosing to make STEM your focus. Meanwhile, don’t blow off your core subjects. You need strong foundation in basic math, science, and English. Your future success depends on giving these subjects your best effort. You don’t have to love them, but you do need to achieve the highest level of mastery possible. Doing so will pay off time and again in your future. You don’t want to have to study these core subjects at the same level again in the future, so get it right and soak it in the first time!
Choose an engineering technology or related program at your local technical or community college. Investigate options that may be new to you such as robotics. Look for a program that provides internship, co-op (cooperative education), or apprentice opportunities while you are in college. Having an opportunity to work for a local employer while you are in college is the single best way to land a job upon graduation. Paid internships are ideal because you can earn while you learn, but any on-the-job experience will give you a competitive advantage when you look for a job after graduation. In an internship, you will get to know the employer and work environment and the employer will be able to assess your attributes and see how well you fit into the organization. Also, you may discover what you really don’t want to do the rest of your life. It is better to find out sooner than later.
Work at developing the broadest skill set possible. Consider a double major (mechanical engineering technology and robotics, civil engineering technology and engineering graphics). Choose your electives to enable you to acquire special knowledge and skills. Your unique combination of knowledge and skills may give you the competitive edge when interviewing for jobs.
Observe those who currently work at the company when you are seeking employment (park nearby and watch people coming to work or leaving work). Then, go home and look in the mirror. If your appearance and dress are dramatically different than those you’ve observed, you may need to consider what this means for you. As the old saying goes, “when in Rome, do as the Romans do.” It is human nature to be suspicious or to misunderstand those how appear radically different. Specific dress, hair, etc. codes may be required at a company for safety or other reasons. Can you adapt? Is it more important to get a job than to make a statement?
If you provide a telephone number so that a potential employer can reach you, make sure that your voice message is appropriate for the business world. What may seem to be fun or cute to your friends may be totally inappropriate for handling business calls. Failure to demonstrate that you grasp the basics of the business world and associated etiquette will de-rail you on the path to success.