Lessons from my corporate life

I have been working in the IT sector for over 10 years now and even though I might not yet be satisfied with what I achieved , I am extremely happy with the fact that I have never let anyone question my work. The journey has been a huge learning experience not just professionaly but also personally. Here are few things I would like to highlight to everyone employed or starting their career , specially women –

There are more than one ways to do things

When working on a task , if your thought process does not work , don’t give up. Try another way , try another person to guide you , try searching answers online or from friends. Do not give up easily. In other words , do your homework well even if you fail the test. My first scolding from the PM was when I gave up on a ticket as the person I usually talked to was on leave. My lead emailed few folks and got the ticket resolved within an hour. I had no answer why I did not do the same. I just did not realize I should do it. I did not even ask anyone how critical the ticket was. Since then, I have always tried to not fall short on effort in completing the task.

Asking for suggestion / help won’t hurt you

I have seen so many people struggling with a problem for days and not willing to ask around for help or guidance. You have to prioritize ,what is important – your ego or the timeline. No learning comes from only working hard. Many lessons lie in collaboration and sharing knowledge. Never hesitate to ask help and never ever be selfish to withhold knowledge from others. No one can take your hard work and experience away from you. But being selfish and aloof can definitely cost you opportunities that others could have given you.

Do not sell yourself short – Right from internship the first time your manager asks for a volunteer for a new project , never assume you can do it or you will make a fool of yourself if you do. Chances are you are right in thinking so. But the learning from this will have to come some day. Better now than never ! Also , it shows your confidence and willingness to learn and put in hard work.

The same applies when you are asked to raye yourself in appraisal or discussion on your performance. I have had made the mistake to be *honest* about self appraisal and the scores were so marginal that manager called me to bump them so that he had margin to cut it if needed :p Years later I had to ask the same to the girl in my team.

Basically , if not 5 for each criteria , atleast be a little more flattering than average score.

Do not be quiet about a bad boss or colleague

A colleague who doesn’t contribute to the team whole heartfelt and is more interested in making others look bad is bad news. Such behave , no matter what should be reported promptly. And that too with evidence. Do not let your doubts make some o e else take advantage of your hard work. A bad boss / manager is worse news. If you can report it , do it. If you can change your team , do it. If it means changing company in some months ,do it. But do not suffer in silence. Do not keep waiting for him/her to go out if the team , because the damage that will be done to your growth won’t be easily fixed. It is not just about the hike / performance ratings but also about your learning curve and growth as a professional that gets blocked under a manager who does not care for the team. Do not be like that , do not ever tolerate that.

Ask , not assume

You want a raise ,ask

You need a different role or work profile , ask

You want help , ask

You think you did not get what you deserve ,well , did you just assume it will be given to you ? Then you are so wrong. Unless you spell it out and discuss your needs / aspirations at the right platform, things will not easily materialize. And when at the table to negotiate , drive a hard bargain. Any chance you let yourself assume that things would be done fair and square , it will be either not what you expected or much delayed. Do not leave things vague for assumption or interpretation. Be clear about them. Always.

Lastly , but probably most important –

Stay out of comfort zone

Never make yourself so comfortable at one role or technology that either you become outdated or left at the same role forever. Keep learning ,keep challenging yourself , keep trying new skills and assess your comfort every 2 years. Give yourself 1 year to learn something ,one year to use the knowledge and the next to move to a different role. That alone will help you stay relevant and up to date.

Oh , and the golden rule when all this doesn’t seem to be working – If people don’t value your hard work and skills, it’s time to change. Do not be scared to make the move at the right time for the right reason.

I wish you all well in your journeys and hope that you share your lessons with me too.

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