Career Advice For Myself From 5 Years Ago

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As I’m approaching another milestone both in terms of career and age, I think back to the person I was five years ago.

If I were to have the chance to go back in time to give a piece of career advice to my younger self, it would be this:

“Put in more effort than anyone else in the company regardless whether someone sees it or not. Because when someone does, you’ll be rewarded. Even if noone sees it, you’ll benefit from all the hard work and your next employer(s) will see it.”

It might not be the best career advice, but it’s something I would have appreciated knowing.

Throwback to the past

When I was interning while waiting for my official bachelor’s certificate, I was still obsessed with K-Pop and guilty of spending some free time during working hours on browsing K-Pop Twitter.

In fact, even in the first few months of my first permanent job, I was busy looking through K-Pop updates.

I even took a day-off before my probation ended for some star chasing event. I’m not proud of all that.

Even after I grew out of my K-Pop obsession, I didn’t see the importance of challenging myself beyond my limits to further grow as a person – I still had time in my twenties. Right?

It was until I started reading up more on personal development that I realised I was jeopardising my future self by idling my infant years away as a professional.

Slower progression during my early career meant that I had to work a lot harder later in my career. And it wasn’t that much later.

Towards the end of my first job

I was lucky that I met a good friend at my first company that challenged me outside of work to get out of my comfort zone and do things I didn’t dare to do on my own.

That was when I started a (now defunct) podcast project with him and learned quite a bit about ourselves. I even got myself into writing film reviews for a local independent site (I’m still writing there too).

It was also when we decided that we couldn’t stay in that company for too long because of the absence of career prospects.

(The company recently ceased operation about four months ago.)

Looking back, staying too long in a dead-end job was one thing, not putting in my full effort was another regretful decision.

I made too many mistakes and overlooked too many important areas of my work that I got out so little from the job.

The best takeaway from that job was that I could apply what I squeezed out of my last six months or so, in my current position.

Putting in the work, whether others see it or not

In my current workplace, I must say I’m quite lucky to have joined early to enjoy growth opportunities both in terms of career and knowledge.

But it would be nonsense to just give credit to “luck” because, in the professional world, 80% to 90% of an outcome is attributed to actual hard work.

And in my case, I was willing to put in all the effort required to reach what was required and expected of me.

While this is advice I would give to my younger self half a decade ago, it’s also advice for anyone starting out as a fresh graduate or feeling lost in their current career’s early stages.

If your current boss doesn’t appreciate you, a future employer will. It’s just a matter of time. And when a boss does, you’ll be rewarded.

Plus you get to keep everything you’ve learned from any company for as long as you remember.

You have everything to gain and nothing to lose – it just depends how you look at it.

About the author

Vance Wong
Vance Wong

Brain-picker. Cinephile. Koreaboo.

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Vance Wong by Vance Wong

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Vance Wong

Vance Wong

Brain-picker. Cinephile. Koreaboo.