Background: I help organizations and individuals to define their brand and develop their online presence using multi-platform inbound marketing. I absolutely love what I do but my path to marketing wasn’t exactly a conventional one. Wondering how to Boost your career? In this article, I’ll share with you, 6 essential steps to include your strategy today.
From Physics to Finance
After completing my Master’s degree in Physics, I decided that I wanted to enter the world of work rather than continue studying. I pursued a career in banking and finance, starting out as an analyst and eventually becoming an analytics consultant. I thoroughly enjoyed my various roles as I could apply all my analytical skills from my studies – work with numbers, explore data and solve problems. On top of this, I was able to learn about a new industry, develop commercial awareness and build strong client relationships. I truly relished working in a fast-paced environment and making an impact.
Changing direction. Again
During my consultancy role, I was lucky enough to explore different areas of the business which included marketing. I was responsible for redesigning the company website, creating social media content and planning corporate events as well creating the now established internship programme. With each task that I delivered, I was already prepared for the next one. It was digital marketing that made me seal the deal with my new career direction – creating engaging content on a corporate platform alongside the opportunity to dive into the data behind the marketing machine.
And here I am today, still excited to go to work (or wfh during this pandemic) every day and just as driven to keep learning about the digital marketing industry. Getting to this stage in my career wasn’t easy or straight-forward, and I’m sure there will be fresh new challenges ahead but here are my top tips to help those starting out or for anyone who is feeling a little lost and demotivated in their career paths.
Don’t let where you are now, define what you can accomplish in the future
If you’re feeling demotivated or lost right now, it might be hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel but having a positive mind-set, will definitely set you on the right track. I never realised how much of an impact this could have but focusing on the good and not dwelling on the negative allowed me to feel a lot calmer and gain clarity on what I really wanted to achieve. If you struggle with this, make a quick list of your key skills and strengths and focus on these. Don’t let the fear of not being where you want to be right now stop you from getting there in the future. Everyone has to start somewhere but the key is to make a start, and if you’re reading this, you’re already making progress.
Research, research and more research!
I cannot stress how important this is but the number of jobs out there is absolutely huge! With technology and innovation, there are so many more types of role available and understandably, you probably won’t have heard of most of them.
Your objective might be figuring out what role or industry you might see yourself in. Start your research online with Google, LinkedIn or look into the ‘Top 100 companies to work for’ or ‘Best Graduate Jobs’ etc. There might be more than one role that interests you so make a shortlist and review what skills you need to for each one. You might even find that some of the roles require you to experience other roles first (e.g. analyst roles first to eventually become a consultant) but don’t let that put you off as building that foundation knowledge is extremely valuable.
Learn from your peers
You can learn something from everyone around you. Depending on what you want to learn and which direction you want your next career move to go in, there is nothing stopping you from reaching out to your team, the wider function, across departments and the leadership team. For example, if you want to learn more about technical aspects of your function/organisation, schedule an informational meeting with the technical lead and ask if there’s any way you can support them that will also get you some valuable exposure. E.g. proof-read technical papers, take minutes for meetings etc. Bear in mind that this is probably going to be on top of your regular workload but this will be worth it in the long term.
Leverage all resources
We’re lucky that the world we’re living in provides us access to a wealth of resources. I’m taking about online courses – free and paid, podcasts, industry recognised qualifications, internships, secondments, online networking via social media, internal shadowing. You don’t need to do all of these but you should decide which are essential and which will give you an edge when applying for new roles or going for promotion. Decide on your budget (or check if your employer offers a learning benefit to save some money!) or if you’re unsure, start with the free options as they can be just as credible. Don’t forget to factor in the length of training courses versus your ideal timeframe for career development.
Create your own opportunities
Waiting for new opportunities in the work place can take a long time but if you create your own, the chances are that you’ll be able to get started in a matter of weeks if not sooner. The most rewarding opportunities will probably require you to be open-minded and adapt, and mixing your interests isn’t a bad shout either. If you’re interested in gaining leadership skills, rather than wait for a new role to become vacant, why not identify a gap in your workplace and take the lead e.g. start a coding study group, lead a confidence in presenting workshop series if that’s one of your strengths. When you start making a list, you’ll realise that there are so many opportunities! You’ll probably have to run your idea by your line manager but if it’s a viable solution to a real problem, you should be okay. As well as learning to lead and gaining extra responsibilities, you’ll raise your profile and get recognised in the business for being proactive and using your initiative. When that leadership role comes around, you’ll already be in the running for it. If not, you have solid example to discuss in job interviews elsewhere!
Hold yourself accountable
When it comes to career boost, a common mistake is not holding ourselves accountable. It’s definitely easier said than done but one way that you can do this is by defining your goals and tracking your progress against them.
A second common mistake is defining your goal as the job opportunity you’re trying to land and forgetting about the stepping stones that will get you there. Your career is a journey and not a destination, and having a plan with a breakdown of mini-goals will bring you transparency, accountability and the confidence to make regular progress.
A third and final point on this is to review your plan weekly and don’t be afraid to switch things up if necessary. You might find that you’re making more progress on an internal project than you originally thought so you might want to reprioritise your other steps.
More often than not, career development isn’t a clean-cut straight forward A to B path, which can often be a blessing in disguise. The journey can present new opportunities and can also reveal how you truly feel about the career choice you’re pursuing. If the grind to get where you want to be doesn’t make you feel excited or motivated, you might want to reconsider your options. And this isn’t something to feel ashamed of either – be grateful that you tried something new and you evolved from it.
If you found this article useful, I’ll be sharing more about what I’ve learnt throughout my career, on my website where you can also get in touch with me – because what good is learning if you’re not willing to share it.
Jenika. K is a Physics postgraduate, former Analytics Consultant, and B2B Marketing Manager, and now a self-employed Digital Marketing professional. Jenika has a strong background in the financial sector, having worked for Barclays, Experian and a specialist risk analytics consultancy previously. She is passionate about helping students leverage their STEM background in the financial industry, evident by the successful internship program she created and managed in her previous role. She is regularly invited to speak at university events to discuss her career experiences and to help bridge the gap between Physics and finance.