Today marks 12 months since I moved to New York.
I really had to force myself to write this post because in a way there’s nothing to say – and yet, there’s everything to say. So much has happened since last July. I would say that everything has gone to plan, but then, there never was a plan.
New York has certainly lived up to expectations, but more than anything this experience has given me perspective, and makes me appreciate all that Ireland has to offer more than ever. The grass isn’t always greener – sometimes it’s just a different shade, and seeing different shades of grass is what makes life worth living (in my opinion).
If you have the opportunity to live and work in the US grab it with both hands. There is a buzz and sense of opportunity that never relents in the city that never sleeps. However if you want to make a success of your move to the US it takes a lot of planning and perseverance. For every success story there is an equivalent where it just didn’t quite work out.
Every day brings new challenges and teaches new lessons. Here are three of the biggest lessons I’ve learned over the past year:
Don’t sell yourself short
It’s important to put your best foot forward in everything you do professionally. We can be our own worst critics and yet it’s difficult to accurately assess our own abilities. Your default answer to any task should be – ‘yes, of course I can do it’. Once you only do this within reason you will be pushing your boundaries without getting too far out of your depth.
This is very much like the well-known adage ‘fake it till you make it’. Though it’s not uncommon that some people who’ve ‘made it’ are still afflicted with self-doubt – aka ‘impostor syndrome‘. Don’t fall into the trap of limiting your own potential – there will be enough people who will try to do that for you.
Personal Branding is key
Competition for roles is intense. Many jobs don’t get posted publicly at all, and for those that do expect to go up against a lot of other candidates.
As you can imagine it is essential to prepare well for interviews, but more than that you should build out your personal brand. Marketing yourself effectively is key – it’s not just convincing an employer that you can perform the role, it’s about convincing them that you have something special to offer and can contribute positively to the company culture above and beyond all of the other candidates.
Treat your career strategy like business strategy
‘Where do you see yourself in 5 years?’ is nonsense. Ask yourself what do you want to achieve in the next year, 5 years, quarterly? Where’s the progression? What is your mission, vision and values? How are you going to progress from one step to the next?
When you have a clear understanding of this it will become clear what you want from your career, then it’s a case of developing a strategy to hit your career goals. Do you need to do more networking, maybe you want to up-skill in an emerging area. This isn’t about being prescriptive about what your career will be in 5 years, but instead its about aligning your choices with your values, and making the tough decisions and doing the hard work to edge you further in the direction you want to go.
This Friday I will be mentoring at the Hustle Summit where hundreds of ambitious young professionals will be hoping to pick up valuable career tips. With the lessons of the last 12 months still fresh in my mind I look forward to helping them on their professional journey.