Starting your first full time job is an exciting step for many. Although exciting, it also posed some large challenges for me. I joined FZ after college with no experience of the trades at all, quickly finding that I’d have to build up some hard and soft skills to succeed. The learning curve was steep. However, with some resilience and a hunger to learn, I made it through. It also helped to talk to others about their initial experiences in the workforce, comparing notes and listening to advice. Fast forward a few years: I’ve learned a lot but still love to hear about others’ experiences of just starting out. I decided to ask some FZers what advice they’d give to young people in setting up their career in the trades. Here’s what they had to say!
Looking back on your career, what’s one thing you wished you knew when just starting out?
- “Pick a career and stick with it. It’s not about pursuing your passions; it’s about bringing your passion to work.”
- “College education can come in handy for some people but it’s not for everyone. If you’re considering it, it’s not a bad idea to complete a job shadow in your major to make sure it’s something you want to do.”
- “That change is ok. I had a hard time accepting change when it came to my position, leading myself to overthink it. I learned you don’t need to overthink it, but you can raise your hand if you have questions.”
- “Don't be embarrassed or afraid to speak your mind. Even if your ideas don’t help the situation in question, you’ll be a positive, active influence in trying to move the situation forward.”
What was the most helpful piece of career-related advice you’ve received?
- “Make sure you interact with people that can help develop you into who you want to be. Recognize strengths and weaknesses, not popularity.”
- “Treat others how you’d like to be treated.”
- “Reach for your goals. The worst someone can do is say no.”
- “No one is more responsible for your success than yourself.”
- “Work hard and be open to constructive criticism. Listen intently instead of just hearing.”
Why do you enjoy working in the trades?
- “I get a strong sense of accomplishment. I have always loved and needed to work with my hands. I love seeing a project get done, done well, on time, and under budget.”
- “There are lots of intelligent, talented people that work here. I’ve gotten to know them and love working with them.”
- “As I’m new to the field, I’m enjoying learning about the different facets of electrical. There’s so much to learn, and everyone is really responsive if I have any questions about anything.”
- “They are concrete proof of my existence. I could drive by projects and point at functioning buildings because of what I did. My hands were part of that project.”
- “There’s a surprising amount of room for career growth. When I started out as an electrician in the field, I didn't see myself as anything other than that. But opportunities opened up, my eyes opened up, and I’ve gotten to where I am now.”
How have you learned hard and soft skills best?
- “I learned a lot through shadowing and asking questions. If you’re interested in a different position or skill, don’t be afraid to ask if you could watch and learn about it.”
- “Through doing. Do it, and if you mess it up, then learn from it.”
- “Listen hard, ask questions, then do it yourself. You may not get it right the first time, but you will probably get it right after you have to redo it.”
- “By developing an incredible passion for whatever you're trying to learn. Once you become passionate, you'll leave no stone unturned. Some things aren’t fun to learn but once you do it, the feeling of conquering it is incredible.”
Any other advice you would give to someone starting a career in the trades?
- “If you want to climb the ladder, be willing to do what it takes to get things done. Own it, or someone else will.”
- “Relationships matter. Connections matter. Don’t burn bridges because the connections you have in life might come in handy later on. It never hurts to know people.”
- “Find a mentor! I’d recommend finding one inside your field or company and finding one outside it, who can get an outsider’s perspective on things.”
- “Stick with it through the hard times. Don’t give up if you get yelled at or you’re assigned a hard task. Maybe your supervisor had a bad day. Tomorrow you might be doing something different entirely. Circumstances change.”
- “Never lose your thirst for knowledge. Never stop learning. Always be creative. Always be a positive influence.”
Looking for a career with opportunities to learn and grow? Whether you’ve just started out in your career or you’re an industry pro, we’d love to introduce you to FZ.
By Tara Beyer
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