The Poor Man’s Career Development Approach
You’ve got a great boss. You work for a company that provides lots of training. Opportunities for you to learn and grow are provided to you. Overall, you’re in a good career development situation.
But what if you’re not? What if your boss doesn’t care about or pay much attention to your development? What if your company doesn’t offer much training? Or your company’s culture and business are slow and conservative. How do you develop yourself in these situations?
What people who have less do
Well, here’s how. When facing such situations, you need to adopt a poor man’s career development approach, or essentially, a self-development approach to your career development.
Okay, you don’t necessarily have to be in a poor or bad job situation to apply this approach. But I call it a poor man’s career development approach because it especially applies to job situations where not much is being provided to you to support your learning and development. You have no mentors guiding you. No resources being directed at you. No good opportunities coming your way.
So what you need to do instead is to apply a self-development approach. This approach involves . . .
· Being accountable for your own career development
· Figuring out your own development needs
· Creating your own development opportunities
· Approaching people and resources that can benefit you
· Taking advantage of what’s already available to you
Your ability to get more out of less
One person I met a few years ago was a great example of someone who used a self-development approach to develop herself faster. At the time, she was a senior executive in a top, global PR agency. However, she began her career as a management trainee in a local hotel. To get into the PR industry, she joined a PR firm as an office assistant. So she didn’t exactly begin her career as a high potential or rising star in the eyes of her company’s management.
I asked her how she managed to reach her senior management level and surpass many others with much better backgrounds. She told me, “If you don’t come from a top school or start out in a top-tier company, you have to be realistic about your situation. And the biggest reality to face is that if you want to be successful, you have to figure out ways to make things happen for yourself.
"对我来说, 我很早就意识到一件事，没有人会觉得我是可造之材。没有人对我的未来感兴趣, 也没有人会给我想要的机会。所以, 我从来不等。相反, 我必须自己对自己的未来和发展负责，我必须自己创造机会从而获得更多资源。
“For me, I recognized very early that nobody was viewing me as a top talent. Nobody was going to really take an interest in my future, or give me the opportunities I wanted. So I never waited around for things to happen to me. Instead, I needed to make them happen for myself, by looking after my own self-improvement and development.
She gave a few examples of how she did this. For instance, she’d volunteer for things just to get closer to situations that were interesting to her. As a junior employee, it didn’t matter to her what she was asked to do. It could be to take notes, collect information, do research, or make calls. To her, these were all chances for her to develop herself and work on projects with people that she could learn and grow from.
她也会主动和公司的很多人接触和交流。“实际上, 如果你只是一个低级的办公室助理, 主动询问老板或管理有什么你能帮忙的地方，这绝对会引起他们的注意。”她说:“主动要求帮忙有一个什么好处呢？你可以向你管理层和你的老板展示，他们在你的职称中看不到的一面：你是一个自我激励, 雄心勃勃, 渴望学习的人。说明你是值得他们关注和扶持的。”
She would also approach and speak with many people in her company. “Actually, when you’re a lowly office assistant and you take the initiative to ask your boss or management what more you can do to help the department or company, it really catches their attention,” she said. “It shows them a side of you that they don’t see from your title. And that’s that you’re someone who is self-motivated, ambitious, and eager to learn. It shows them that you’re someone who is worth paying attention to and supporting.”
Finding ways to get what you need
In my own early days transitioning from an engineering to a business career, I also wasn’t an obvious choice for the marketing opportunities I sought. I also realized this early on, and knew I had to find ways to get myself into the situations that could help my career.
我做了什么呢？首先, 我自己一个人完成了一项研究， 一个非营利组织的营销项目 (要做一些你没做过的事，非盈利组织会是一个还不错的开始)。接下来，我在一家女性保健品公司做了一份市场部的实习工作。然后在我的老东家美泰玩具公司的市场部做了另一份市场实习。这些机会没有一个是主动送上门来的，全都是我自己想办法找到并且努力拿到的。
For instance, first, I did an independent study, marketing project for a non-profit organization (NGOs are great starting points to do something you’ve never done before). Next, I did a marketing internship in a women’s healthcare products company. Then another one in the marketing department of the toy company I used to work for. None of these opportunities approached me or were recommended to me. I identified and pursued each one of them myself.
最终，除了你自己，没有人会关心你事业的成功和未来。你的事业是你的责任。特别是，当你无法获得很多资源、人力和机会来帮助你更快地发展的时候, 你就需要采取积极主动的、自我培养的方式来拓展你的事业。退一步说，即使你是处在一个还不错的平台， 一个自我培养， 或者说"Poor Man"的职业发展方式， 也能帮你更快地学习和发展自己。
At the end of the day, nobody is going to care about your career success and future more than you. It’s your career, your responsibility. Especially when you don’t have access to many resources, people, and opportunities that can help you develop faster, you need to take a proactive, self-development approach to your career development. But even if you’re someone who’s in a good job situation, a self-development, or poor man’s career development approach, will help you to learn and develop yourself much faster.
In my next article on self-development, I’ll talk about some key self-development habits that will help you get more out of any situation you’re in.
Ever been in a job situation that at first didn’t seem to have much to offer you, but you found ways to develop key skills and experience from it? I’d love to hear about it, and what you did to benefit from this situation!