I have been procrastinating on writing this blog for quite some time now because I didn’t think, given my limited career experience, that I had much to write. But then today, on a Sunday while I was getting the urge to write, I thought that, despite not having much to talk about, I’ve learned an awful lot through my career.
With that, let me take you through my career journey and the lessons learnt from it. My timeline starts with part-time jobs at university. I was an international student in London and just like everyone else I did part-time jobs. Luckily for me I worked at the university itself which prepared me well for the professional world. Here we go!
Part-time University Jobs:
1) Your work speaks for you.
2) Always stay open to opportunities because you never know when and how they can come in handy.
I worked with almost every single department at the university, be it the Admin Department or the Arts School which I wasn’t even part of. It’s because of this everyone at the university knew me. I didn’t do it intentionally, but it helped me to build a network. I got great references from all of the people I worked for and with, and because of that I’d end up with one job opportunity after another.
The variety of tasks used to get me excited even if they were as simple as using the walkie-talkie for the first time (being part of the event organization team). I took on some big projects, too, like building the website for a new college. Now, when I look back, some of these roles were probably my first steps towards becoming “techy.”
Working with the accounts department taught me something beyond my degree education: it introduced me to the world of accounts and invoices. The knowledge I gained back then helps me in my current job when I have to work on billing processes at Kayako. In fact, the other day I was talking to my colleague here on the billing team about it and we had something common to discuss.
IT Support in Library: this was probably the stepping stone for me to get into the world of customer support. I used to get to interact with people from all the backgrounds. This was a pretty entry-level job, which meant that I could experiment freely. I even got to try to fix printers and PC screens, which was new to me at the time.
Not only that, people would just walk over to the support desk and talk about anything and everything. Talking to people and listening to them always felt good. In fact, it was because of that that I got to learn how quarantining computer systems worked and how we could block machines if we found anything suspicious. It was fun to learn about this world which I hadn’t even known existed. I use this knowledge to this day when troubleshooting issues.
Internship at AXA Investment Managers:
1) Don’t let your job title or job role limit your experiments or responsibilities.
2) Propose to change things if you see an opportunity to make things better and more efficient.
This was my first official step into a full-time career.
AXA helped me learn how to be professionally independent. I was given the freedom to make decisions which helped me develop logical and analytical thinking. It gave me the confidence to start proposing new changes to the way we worked— I even got involved in re-engineering several business processes during my time there. So, I was not just an intern who was learning, I was also contributing back to the overall good of the company. It is probably because of that that my one year internship got extended and it lasted for 1.5 years.
Had I thought that I was just an intern and never shown the ownership that I did, I probably would not have had gotten the opportunity to learn so much. Because of this, I always recommend that people be inquisitive when it comes to learning something new at work. Don’t feel like you’re being burdened with work. Of course, there’s a line to draw but I’d advocate that you should never say no if there is something new for you in it.
My manager at AXA taught me the importance of documenting new knowledge, and also told me never to run away from new learnings. I’m still using that advice today.
AXA also showed me the dream of being a powerful independent woman because I was surrounded by so many of them. Sometimes when I sit back and think, I wonder if I’d have been a different person had AXA not happened to me.
1) Baby steps towards remote work.
2) Project Management.
3) It made me a go-getter.
4) Never say no to an opportunity because of fear.
Everything at Financial Times was oriented around project work. After being hired to work on a specific project, I learned a lot about project management. Some of the most important things that I learned about were: setting realistic timelines, keeping the stakeholders on the same page, and the importance of training and documentation.
Also, I was introduced to (partial) remote working for the first time which was amazing. Remote work in itself requires a lot of discipline which I learnt at FT. You can actually hear more about my first learnings as a remote employee on the podcast that I recorded with Remote Work Summit.
I remember one time my manager asked me to present my project work at one of our biweekly meetings. I’d never been asked to do this before and wasn’t really prepared but, nevertheless, I said yes and went for it. By the end of it I had won myself an admirer! So, always go for the challenge, you will only end up learning something new from it.
Meeting Christina Scott was an amazing experience. FT also had some amazing, inspirational women leading different teams. I remember once I reached out blindly to the head of the Business Analysis team and told her that I was interested in learning more about IT Business Analysis. She responded, and subsequently taught me a lot. Since that day onwards I decided never to hesitate to ask for something which can help me walk away with more knowledge.
Lesson: Sky is the limit!
Its a fact that the people you spend time with can impact you. Because you spend majority of your time at work, its your colleagues who leave the biggest impact on you.
At Kayako we have this culture of reading books, attending conferences, writing content, brainstorming things, and having fruitful discussions. Kayako is also full of travel enthusiasts! All of this is something that I’m doing much more of since I learnt the value of these things in both my personal and professional growth.
Its at Kayako that I got introduced to the Support Driven community and since then there has been no looking back. I got the opportunity to handle Support Driven’s twitter handle. I’m also volunteering as one of the track leaders for SDX in Portland this June. There are so many new opportunities that this has opened up for me.
I have written quite a few blogs for Kayako’s own blog, a guest blog post for Nicereply, and a couple of blog posts for Support Driven challenges. By the end of March, I’ll have spoken at two conferences.
In a nutshell, doing your job is one thing but you need to go out there and be part of the bigger community. That’s how you continue to learn. I had never done these things before but now that I do them, they have added so much value and fun to my actual job.
Additionally, I have learnt how you can contribute towards making someone’s career by mentoring them right. Remember how the people at AXA and FT helped me grow? That’s exactly what I want to pass on to my mentees.
I am not from a technical background but while at Kayako, I managed to work on an API script. I picked up project management skills at Financial Times and here at Kayako I am actually managing projects. So, whatever I learnt over the course of my career, I’ve been implementing at Kayako and continuing to grow.
Learn as much as you can on every job role because you never know where and how you will get to implement it. As for me, every single skill that I’ve learnt is being actively used in one way or the other. I hope to just keep on growing.