It’s a daunting world, the workforce. The real life. Adulting. Like, actually being in a job you might want to be in for an extended period of time – maybe even have a career in. As millenials, a lot of us have gotten accustomed to the idea of working dead-end service industry jobs or menial office jobs for the rest of our lives (of course, nothing wrong with these jobs, and some people do enjoy them). We are, therefore, very much unprepared when we, somehow, magically get one of those jobs we really wanted, which is why it is important to know how to speak up for yourself in this type of scenario.
If you’re in this boat, congratulations – you’ve just taken your first step in your career. As the new person in the office, especially a young one, it can be hard figuring out how to speak up for yourself. You go in wanting to please everyone and to make sure that you’re like by your colleagues. Sometimes, though, this can backfire – especially when it starts taking a toll on you. Here are a few pointers on how speak up for yourself when you’re new to a career.
1. Fake it till you make it. Even the most confident person in the office has been new to a career once. Not many people ooze confidence naturally: even those who make it seem effortless are, more often than not, faking it.
2. Make yourself seen and heard. When you’re new to a career, it’s easy to sink under the radar. However, if you want to make sure that those above you know who you are, make sure you make a good first impression during your first week. Ask your boss or supervisor if you can schedule a meeting to chat about the industry. Even if they don’t have the time, they’ll appreciate the initiative and enthusiasm.
3. Know what is expected of you in your role, and don’t do anything that isn’t. This is especially true at unpaid internships – if your boss is expecting you to work overtime for no pay, make sure you set firm limits early on. It may be valuable experience and good for networking, you don’t bend over backwards – especially if you’re not getting paid for your work. An easy way to do is to simply say, ‘I can’t right now as my hours have finished – I’ll look at it first thing tomorrow’.
4. Learn to say no. You can easily begin to spread yourself too thin if you say yes to everything that’s asked of you.
5. If you feel overwhelmed by the work, speak to someone. They can find someone to help you out, or give you tips or tricks on how to best go about your tasks. Simply asking for how to best prioritise the tasks on your plate is usually enough!
6. Remember that you’re there to learn. You learning how to be good at what you do benefits the company, too – there are no stupid questions. It’s always easier to ask for help when you’re unsure than to have to explain why you’ve messed something up.
7. If you mess up, own up to it – you’re new, they don’t expect you to be perfect at your job.
8. Be assertive, not aggressive. If you think you have a good idea, stick by it – but listen to what others have to say, too.
9. Trust your instincts. If your gut’s telling you something is amiss, it’s usually right. When it comes to learning how to speak up for yourself, this is really important!
10. If there is a problem, find someone above you whom you feel comfortable with and bring it up with them. You deserve to feel comfortable in your place of work, too.
11. Before you go to speak up about something you know might get you irritated or angry, make sure you’ve planned what you’re going to say – write it down if need be. This way, you’ll be going in prepared, and will come off as assertive and articulate.
12. If you’re sick or unwell, speak up for yourself. There’s no point in you being at work if you can’t actually do your job. This is especially true for those suffering with mental health issues, or for women who experience crippling period pains. There’s no shame in needing the time off.