WIRe Residency: Never mind your job, start shaping your career!

By Danielle Todd, WIRe London lead

I’m usually found chatting career challenges, or channelling pearls of wisdom from WIRe speakers I’ve been so privileged to snag for our wonderful community, over a glass or two of wine, where I’m allowed to ramble at length. In an effort to succinctly sum up this inspiration, I’ve distilled all of the wonderful advice I’ve picked up from leaders and mentors over the years to four simple tips.

Read this and remember: a career is what you want to make it, and involves many shifts left, right, up and perhaps down; and these tips apply from day one to when you hang up your insight hat.

Bring your whole self every damn day | Especially when starting out, it can be easy to feel like you have to fit in with the norm, or your hobbies and interests aren’t relevant in your day-to-day. Nonsense! Who you are, what excites you, and what skills and perspectives you foster outside of your work life are huge assets to you and your career. Be you, every day, and apply what you know from your personal life or hobbies (the fancy term is ‘far learning’) to day-to-day challenges – you’ll be surprised how useful this approach can be!

Strike up conversations in the toilet queue | You can learn so much through informal conversations. It can be nerve-wracking to approach a brand-new person, especially if they’re very senior, or if doing so feels quite outside your comfort zone. Have that 5-minute chat, ask about their day, their hopes, their challenges, as you never know what you can learn, or how that relationship can shape your career. It could lead to a spark of inspiration, a connection, a new project, mentoring…even a job offer!

Make a choice | When you start out, it can feel like you have to say yes to a lot of things, and take on a lot of work. And yes, there will be some grunt work. But make a choice. Will you get lost in the grunt work or see it was an opportunity to optimise your project management skills? Will you choose to ask for additional training in an area you’re interested in or hope someone notices you’re sort of good at it? Whatever step you take, or direction you go, make it your choice to do so.

Always be curious | Finally, and I cannot stress this enough, be curious. About your work, your colleagues, your challenges. Not every work day is going to feel revolutionary, but it’s revolutionary to focus your perspective on striving to learn, grow and progress, in tiny ways, every day.  

Okay, if I’m allowed a sneaky fifth tip, I would also say: sign up to WIRe! Your global network, full of comradery, inspiration and badassery is waiting to learn more about you and help you shape your career. What are you waiting for?