With the G.C.E. Advanced Levels over, most of the 18-and 19 -year-olds in our country will be looking for part time or full time jobs until the results are released. In most of our Sri Lankan schools, career guidance is not provided.

Sure, most schools have a counselor, but it is very rarely that students seek the counselor’s guidance for career advice. Furthermore, in this fast paced world, it is very difficult for a student to get work.

Thus, for all those out there, who would like a little bit of the upper-hand. Here are a few things you need to know before you begin your career.

1. Be self-assured
Stop second-guessing yourself and your abilities. Remember that you’re in your role for a reason _ you are very capable, maybe even more than most. This doesn’t mean that you should present as overconfident, but you should definitely not come across to your colleagues as timid. Being a professional means showing that you’re strong, so keep doing what you do with confidence.

2. Speak up
A successful person isn’t afraid to speak up! Never hesitate to ask questions or voice your opinion. The fear of embarrassment or rejection often hinders employees from partaking in discussions; however, when you remain silent, you actually become uninterested or lacking ideas. You have something good to say, so simply say it.

3. Don’t make it personal
You’ve heard this one before, but it can be tough to adhere to. Work is work and business is business, but what if your work and your business mean a lot to you?
Although it’s fantastic to think of every piece you contribute to as ‘your baby’, business people need to develop thick skins in order to effectively take criticism. It’s really all mental. If a client or supervisor dishes out some harsh feedback, think of this as fuel to drive your improvement. If you let these types of situations make you feel angry or defeated, surprise: You’re human, but you have the power to control your emotions and maintain a mature business persona.

4. Your job shouldn’t feel like a job
If you go to work every day, perform the same old tasks apathetically and run out the door at the stroke of 5 pm, chances are that you’re not thrilled with your situation. Your ‘job’ (career/passion/vocation) should thrill you in that it shouldn’t feel like work. Do something that you genuinely enjoy. If you’re on your way to your construction job and you feel eager to start constructing, you love what you do.

5. Don’t base your happiness on your paycheck
While a healthy salary pays the bills, it doesn’t mean everything. Of course you should vie for pay that fairly rewards your experience, skill-set and workload, but a lot of hardworking professionals have to wait this out. Especially in the startup environment, companies go through ups and downs and even the most essential employees have to deal with the financial consequences of that. If you believe in your organization and are willing to push through the hard times, the level of fulfilment you’ll realize at the end of the day will be worth far more than a cushy paycheck in a position you don’t truly care about.

6. Accept a job for the right reasons
Remember that it’s not worth it to accept just any job especially if your deciding factors lack validity. Maybe the company culture seems cool and fun but the position isn’t an ideal fit for you. In that case, don’t take the job. Awesome happy hours and holiday parties mean very little in the grand scheme of things, while properly exercising your talents is crucial.

7. Find a mentor
Finding a mentor to provide you guidance can be greatly beneficial. Confiding in a friend/teacher’s expertise will open your eyes to what it’s really like in the field. This mentoring relationship will tell you all of the not-so-great things about your desired career path which you should definitely be aware of.

8. It’s okay to make mistakes
As you know, everyone makes mistakes, so remind yourself that making a mistake is not the end of the world by any means. If you’re not dealing with a life-or-death situation, your errors at work shouldn’t keep you up at night. Of course mistakes are regrettable, but you can always still work with what you’ve got and that means more chances to do better.

9. Remain highly organized
It is always in your best interest to be super organized. Utilize project management tools to stay on track and simplify your processes. Organize your desk, your calendar and even your briefcase and your work will reflect that.

10. Network with a community
It’s a great idea to become part of a community and network regularly. Find a niche that interests you and immerse yourself in that scene. That doesn’t necessarily mean that you should attend every networking event you hear about; effective connecting happens when you foster relationships in your network through genuine outreach.