Career advice to my younger self
Karen Steinfeld started in EVRY in 2010. She has had four different positions and has become a well known profile internally. But there are some things she wishes someone told her before she started.
She had her first day in EVRY the day before the fusion between EDB and Ergo Group. The situation was quite chaotic and no one had time or interest in onboarding a new employee. From 8AM ‘til 4PM she watched online TV, cleaned printing rooms and made coffee.
- When I finally felt like throwing in the towel, I instead decided to take matters into my own hands and start my own project on how the employees were affected by the fusion. That sparked a lot of thoughts at the management level and the project was a success. The takeaway was that being proactive pays off. But there are more things I would have liked to know before I started my IT career.
1. Use your knowledge
- In the start of your new job you may feel a bit out of place the first couple of months because you don’t exactly see where you fit in to the “larger picture”. In that case it’s important to map out your competencies. Both the formal and the informal ones.
- You may use the informal competence from a student union to come up with ideas on how your EVRY team can improve and do things differently. In my case I learned that I’m an outspoken person, which makes me equipped to move fast into new projects where I don’t necessarily know the people I’ll be working with from before. The point is that you have to be conscious of your strong sides and then start using them in a work setting
2. Learn the organizational chart
- EVRY has 8800 employees, which makes it easy to lose perspective of the organization as a whole. In the start, I managed by sitting down and studying the org. chart carefully. But the best way to get an overview is actually just talking to people around you. But remember to talk on a different frequency than you usually do!
- So instad of just asking the person what their name is and where they work, you can turn your curiosity up a notch and ask them how many people work in that department, how they drive EVRYs income, what they are being measured on and how the responsibilities are being shared internally in their team. Curiosity is the key! And no matter where you work you do have a responsibility to be curious on how your workplace is put together. And with that attitude, it’s a lot easier to get an overview as well.
3. Expect things from your manager
- We often look to our manager for answers and feedback. You expect that your manager is proactive and expecting results from you. But it’s equally important that you’re clear on what results you expect from your manager. Ask for 30 minutes every now and then to talk about what projects you can contribute to, if your tasks can be a bit more varied or if there’s something you should change. Remember to speak up when something at the workplace isn’t working as well as it could, and propose a solution. Nothing changes if you never even mention it.
4. Be patient
- The downside of being engaged in work is that you easily forget to align before you implement. Sometimes in the start I might have been perceived as a loose cannon on deck, but with time I learned the importance of aligning. Then things didn’t just “get done”, they got done in the right way.
- It’s different when you work in a large company like EVRY. Things take longer time, but the projects are also larger and cooler. And when you’ve really aligned and everything is in place, you’re truly unstoppable.
5. Boost your knowledge
- In our business you have to re-fill your knowledge. Both your formal and informal competence needs a boost every now and then. I’ve tricks on how to stay updated. I think reading books, listening to podcasts and watching TED-talks is great. But the value is sharing information that might be interesting for others. The same way you’d recommend a movie to a friend outside work, you can recommend an interesting podcast to a co-worker.
- EVRY like most businesses has courses that employees have access to, both internally and externally. Like when we sent a lot of our sales resources to a “presentation course” with Dale Carnegie. If you come over an exciting course, breakfast meeting or seminar, try to show how attending will make you better at your job. Most managers will happily send you there.