Why you need to start a career from school
by Irene Kuguelova, CFO of Moneta Holdings LTD
Many parents and their growing children first start to think about their future profession in high school, when the time comes for the exams and choosing a university. And the choice of an educational institution is considered one of the main career decisions in the life of a child. Everyone is sure that graduation from the “right” university is a guarantee of a successful career. But the reality is not that simple.
After graduating from a (possibly even prestigious) university, many graduates understand that this is not the job that they would like to do and do not see themselves in this profession. Many young people study for 5-6 years in universities just “because it is necessary,” and not because they thought out in detail their future career and development plan.
You need to start thinking about your career already from school, from years 14-15. Do not throw tomatoes at me, proclaiming “do not deprive a child of childhood”! Nobody is going to deprive anyone of anything. But we live in an age of capitalism, and now the young generation cannot just wait passively that everything will go by itself. On the contrary, in future years of crisis it will be more difficult to achieve success; competition in the labor market is growing. I urge you and your children not to miss the opportunity to learn about new professions and ideas of business development even at school.
Summer internships/start of career
Starting a career ascent is much easier when there is already some experience. Let us compare 2 different 20-year-old university students. One of them had 2 summer vacation internships in a small company as a copywriter, and the other had no working experience spending summers with his friends drinking beers and playing the guitar. The first one already understands what approximately volume and quality of work he will have to do for living and knows the real price of his job; he went through “baptism of fire” during these summer months. The second simply considers himself a great specialist and may inadequately assess his capabilities and his value on job market. Such strategic mistakes, even at such a young age, can throw you a couple of steps down the career ladder.
What is more important, it is usually much easier for a student-trainee or even a school student to get a first job. In most companies school trainees do not have to pass full-scale aptitude testing and job interviews. After all, trainee’s salary requests are incomparably lower than these of an experienced professional or even just a graduate without work experience. But, having received your first job and showing yourself as a capable performer, you can gain a foothold in the company, and your chances to step far up the career ladder will significantly increase.
My own story:
“My mother worked as a manager in a small regional newspaper. Starting from my 6th grade, each summer for a couple months, I spent my days at her work. I don’t know if it was her strategically thought-out plan. Most probably it wasn’t. Being a kid of an employee, I was taken very friendly there. I did not have to pass any interview or psychometric aptitude test. It was very interesting for me to see how the final product is created. My mom was in the printing, and I was amazed to see how instead of blank sheets a fresh copy of a newspaper comes out of the printing press. And I felt to be a witness (and even a participant) of this magic!
I was responsible for many small tasks: I was a courier (papers in the city, cookies from the nearest store, official papers a floor below in the office of the director), accountant (filed bills and contracts, checked checks, counted cash), secretary (answered calls, made coffee and tea, met guests, watched office flowers). I diligently carried out all the instructions and saw that I bring real benefits. This brought me the understanding what a team is, that any work is important and respected, that if a colleague is having a problem, you need to join and help. This is very important for a career, but this is not taught at the university.
The income of a trainee and a professional can be dramatically different. Getting a trainee’s salary at 22 or at 14-17 years old is very different, isn’t it? In school years, it’s not shameful to work for interest, receiving a scholarship at the workplace or even working for free. Another thing is to work for free in 20-23 years, when young people want to live separately from parents and the needs have grown. Young men want to splurge on girls, and girls want to look beautiful. The sooner a working life begins, the faster experience, self-confidence and a steady income come.
My own story:
“Throughout my school years I worked without any pay, I didn’t even have a “scholarship”. But I learnt many things that proved useful in my future career.
Everything changed when I got used to it. I brought my summer business functionality to the ideal and could offer my own ideas, rationalize current tasks and even offer changing the whole business concept of the newspaper. So, from an intern I became a specialist with a small but stable salary. This was at my first university course, and I was 17 years old.
I can anticipate your comments like “she had a pull from her mother working there.” But my mother was not a boss, she was just a linear employee. And nobody from the company would continue to work with a schoolchild if he/she could not learn in the course of business, constantly made the same mistakes, was sloppy and did not shine with a desire to work.”
Ease of career choice
When you are young and you have no obligations to your parents (for the money spent on your studies at the university), you can easily and freely try yourself in different areas. Today you are a blogger, after a couple of months you are engaged in public relations in a small company, and after six months you decided to do cooking and got a job as an assistant confectioner. Such somersaults are normal for a 20-year-old person, but they delay a career take-off every time you make a change of activity.
Start trying earlier, and at school age you can begin to gain experience and look for your best profession while working on different projects.
My own story:
“After working for 2 years as an advertising agent in a newspaper in my years 17-19, I completely realized that this was not the job of my dream. So, I started a different career in finance. Working with bills and numbers brought me more satisfaction (and a better pay). So already at the age of 19 I had a clear idea which way I would go through life and what goals I set for myself. At 22, I was already the chief accountant of a medium-size IT company. At the age of 26, I became the chief accountant of a licensed credit organization. And a year later I became a member of its management board.
I can speak not only about my experience. Being a head of a department myself, I conducted a lot of interviews and aptitude tests when hiring employees. And I saw the difference between job seekers who started their career path earlier than others. I am 100% sure that young people should try themselves in real business as early as possible.”
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