How to be great in your job

I am not going to lie. I took up a degree in Computer Science for all the wrong reasons.

Remember Angeline Jolie’s character in Hacker? That was my reason.

After graduated from college, I worked as a junior programmer like any other Computer Science graduate would. Unfortunately, reality bites and I actually had to write programming scripts in C/C++. And it didn’t help when my immediate supervisor was such a dick to me.

To cut things short. I call it quits just within a month. Just like that. I didn’t want to try harder because I absolutely detest what I was doing. I was in my early 20s with a degree in Computer Science and I can’t even complete a set of programming scripts to save my life.

So I called my dad, packed my bags and head back home to Batu Pahat, Johor.

I felt miserable. I felt I had let my parents down. I felt I had let myself down.

I didn’t know what to do. My degree was completely useless to me and I didn’t have the money to go back to college to start over again. My options were either get a job in a local bookstore or get a job as a receptionist in a hotel.

However, that didn’t happen because I was proud and arrogant (for all the right reasons). I couldn’t get over the fact that I am a bloody degree holder. And the amount of hard-earned money invested by my parents for that piece of paper.

So with the little knowledge that I had on web designer, I got hold of some pirated Macromedia CDs and printed a bunch of online tutorials on Photoshop and Dreamweaver. And self-studied for a month before I applied for a Junior web designer in a local Internet start-up company, with a starting pay of RM800 a month.

8 months of hard work and the knowledge acquired in web design, I quit my job, packed my bags, came back to Kuala Lumpur and landed a job as Microsoft Web Analyst for Microsoft Malaysia.

I am not aiming for the top spot on the corporate ladder, nor am I aiming for big bucks, big cars, fancy leather handbags and designer clothing brands. On the contrary, I am contended with what I’ve achieved to be able to live comfortably. With a lot of hard work guided by these principles that I lived by throughout my working life:

One step at a time. I realised that if I want to excel in my career, I’ve got to start from the bottom and work my way up.

Throughout my working life, I’ve never rushed into a position bigger than I can handle. It is easy to fall into the trap of peer pressure, especially when my college mates were earning twice as much compare to me. But I’ve never let money cloud my judgement. I knew I had to start somewhere and the knowledge that I’ve acquired and the working experience would more valuable then the pay check at the end of the day. Because when I am ready for a bigger role with bigger responsibility, the money will follow.

Take initiative.If you want to excel in your career, you have got to walk the extra mile. Offer to help with your colleagues’ task, offer to do more than what was assigned to you, ‘ask’ if there are anything else that you can do. Make yourself known to your peers and superiors, taking initiative can go a long way. When there is a task to be assigned, you would be the first to come to mind thus increasing your chance for a bigger role and ultimately, a promotion.

Don’t be afraid to ask question(s) to your manager or your peers. But before asking, have your solution(s) prepared instead of expecting to be spoon fed with answers.

Coming up with alternative solutions helps you understand the issues at hand and helps you improve your problem solving skills.

Go to work and plan for your annual leave. There would be times when we are too distraught to go to work after a breakup, after a fight with our best friend, or just simply feeling lazy on Monday. Whatever reasons that is prompting you to text your manager to take day off, DON’T. Get your ass up, get dress and go to work. Being lazy and skipping work due to personal matters show signs of irresponsibility, especially when there are tons of work waiting to be completed.

If you must take a day off due to personal matters, be honest about it with your manager and handover all the pending matters to your peers.

Grab whatever networking opportunity you can get. To climb the corporate ladder, you need to market yourself and know people within your industry. So when you are given an opportunity to network, grab it!

Never mind if you promised your best friend to hit the club after work and doesn’t matter if you have a movie to catch with your boyfriend/girlfriend. Just go, because opportunity doesn’t knock on your door twice. You’ll never know the person that you are going to meet is going to be someone who plays a role in helping you get that promotion or a better career opportunity in the future.

Good luck!

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