Positioning Myself: The Greatest Piece of Career Advice I've Ever Received
And how it changed my personal life too
Hi everyone! Welcome to the over 50 new members who joined Society’s Backend this past week. I'm excited to explore engineering and machine learning with you! I don't want to interrupt your holidays with family and friends so I'll keep my writing short this week.
As regular readers know, I enjoy sprinkling personal development topics into my articles. I believe to properly teach machines how to learn, we need to be constantly learning and bettering ourselves.
Continuing with the series on essential soft skills for a successful career in technology, this week's topic is particularly exciting for me. Not only does it apply broadly across life in general, but it's also the most valuable piece of career advice I've ever received. It’s all about what you should prioritize when considering large decisions.
I never assess new career opportunities alone. I always seek advice from those I trust who can offer a different perspective into the opportunity at hand. Here are three questions I typically ask:
Does this role offer better pay?
Can I learn in this position?
Will I find joy in the work?
I used to prioritize these questions in that order. The first is because I need to provide for my family. The second question is rooted in my personal drive--knowing myself well enough to understand that stagnation frustrates me. The third question is about progression. I want to ensure I'm not making lateral career moves.
One piece of career advice transformed this approach entirely: Focus less on money and more on career trajectory. The main takeaway is to sacrifice things that are less significant in the short-term for something that will be much more meaningful in the long-term. Examples of this could be switching companies to learn more about a specific technology or meet certain people, or changing jobs to a discipline within your field that you're more interested in.
This advice resonated with me deeply. It made me view my career from a long-term perspective. If I find myself in a discipline I enjoy, I’ll be more motivated to master that discipline and learn what I need to set myself up for career and financial success. The earlier in your career you make this mindset shift, the greater long-term effect it can have.
This advice has reordered my evaluation process to the following:
Will this role set me up for long-term success?
Can I learn and grow in this position?
Does this role offer increased pay?
This is my favorite advice because it was something I needed to hear not only for work, but also for my personal life. It applies equally well to life in general: you should make decisions in your personal life by considering their greater, long-term impact over smaller short-term gains. This has caused me to prioritize my health and happiness and ignore the noise of less important things.
I hope you're enjoying some time off. Merry Christmas!
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