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Lessons From my First Real Job

Lessons from an Upcoming Career Girl

2019 was a year for me. I felt like all my life I had been shielded, and then all of a sudden, 2019 threw me out in the open; with no shelter whatsoever.

Did it end in tears or praise? Well, let’s just thank God for life.

I spent the greater part of my 2019 navigating the real life, or should I say corporate life in one of the toughest cities in the world, Lagos, Nigeria.

So I ran away from the corporate life for a long time, and this is the first time I am coming out to openly say that I was dead scared of what that life held for me.

Then I got the opportunity to travel to France, sponsored by the French Institute for Research in Africa (IFRA).

On making the decision to return to Nigeria, I was filled with a lot of uncertainties including the fact that my visa was valid for over 6 months and I could stay back and even process another one-year visa. I sought the opinions of my friends. However, I chose to come back to face the harsh realities in Nigeria. Was it such an amazing idea? That one is another blog post.

For once in my life, I tried to do something different. If you ask my friends and family members it was totally an unexpected turn in my career path.

It’s so refreshing to finally write this post and recount my experiences and mistakes so that you guys won’t repeat my mistakes. I learnt the following lessons in my first real job.

1) Learn how to approach each one of your superiors, different strokes for different folks. I worked in a place that projected the first name basis thing in this our Naija that thing is almost untrue, don’t fall for it I will take something from the bible; be wise like a serpent and as gentle as a dove, apply wisdom plenty of it at that.

2) Be punctual, I cannot overemphasise it, being on time gives you a great reputation, puts you out there, helps you avoid issues at the workplace as well as helps you get first-hand information too. Trust me; you don’t want to carry last

3) You do not need to be nice to everyone, my friend always emphasizes that niceness is not a fruit of the spirit, but by all means, be kind guys and be really kind to anyone irrespective of their cadre or position, it pays off.

To support this point, I have to scream this one loud for those at the back, don’t be a people pleaser. Not everyone will like you, and that’s okay you are not trying to sell ice cream, are you?

Apart from the fact that it is utterly irritating, it won’t keep you in the spotlight forever. Learn to say NO. Don’t be a yes man.

4) Develop great relationships with people, not just with your co-workers and superiors but with those that may be in a lower cadre. My pool car drivers at work were my best friends, as a cry cry baby that I am, (guys my reputation precedes me in that field), these drivers always had a word or two to encourage me, plus you get to hear real-time gist and history talks, and they allow me rest my sleep deprived body when we go on office trips.

5) Know the people that matter in the scheme of things under the political system. These include the cabals obtainable in your place or work. This, however does not imply that you worship them ( our God is a jealous God). It keeps you in check and helps you play your cards well. Know who the real boss is , know who holds the power. There is a cabal guys; trust me, there is truly a cabal in almost everywhere

6) Do not gossip, do not be a gossip, do not entertain gossips and do not befriend gossips, save your head, guys. If you must gossip, keep the gist for your family members and friends outside the workplace.

7) Being quiet, no dey help anybody, project your skills, sell your market.This was not me at the time I started my journey in the corporate world. It’s a lesson I learnt the hard way. The way you project yourself is the way others will see you,sell yourself guys, sell your market.

8) No one has got you girl, not anyone, well except God, who is not a man, do your thing and produce results too.

9) Results are important in a capitalist system, getting the work done is the most important thing, so get your acts together and come correct.

10) Learn to manage your emotions there is no longer H in the HR of many organisations, its hard I know, but just learn it.

11) Pay attention to details don’t always be in a hurry to hit that send mail to your boss in order to meet deadlines.

11) There will be bullies, now guys, I don’t mean those miss goody two shoes seniors in secondary school who collect your stuff, no guys this bullying is somewhat subtle but it is so real and tangible that you can almost touch and feel it, it could come in the form of micro-managing you, be aware guys, shine your eyes.

12) Try to stick to the stipulated dress codes. Looking good is serious business, but in a bid to look good don’t go overboard in other words, no go dey do pass yourself, leading me to my next lesson;

13) Don’t let anyone pressure you to spend beyond your limits in terms of dressing, feeding or standard of living, if you cannot afford it, you cannot afford it guys. Resist the urge to show yourself.

I remember, in my case, there was a co-worker that was on my neck to dress up and wear this and that, but she had worked for over 5 years at the time, and we could not possibly be in the same level financially. Another thing was that I didn’t plan to stay there for a long time, so why spend hard-earned money on temporary baffs?

14) This leads me to my next point have an exit plan . Enjoy the journey and take in all that the job offers, enjoy the process but don’t get complacent.

In other words, have a transition plan just in case you are not getting what you require for the next phase of your life. Don’t let any superior hold you down; if they get a better opportunity, trust me, they will take it. I always tell my friends to move or make plans to move you are not a tree. Don’t get in a lockdown guys, you can still move

Even though the corporate work beat me up so well, I have decided that this is the life I want to live, I would not be able to do an entrepreneurship thing full time, but then no one knows tomorrow.

While this post might not be holistic, this is me sharing my personal experiences hoping that somewhere somehow, you could pick up something from it.

Disclaimer: All the views shared here are strictly my opinion and a product of my experiences.

I hope to bring a part 2 where I get some of my knowledgeable mates to share something from their own experiences.

What are the things you learned from your first job and how has it shaped you and your career?

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