How to build my career path?
I started out from the bottom with low confidence and a bad attitude and kept pushing to finally work in multiple countries in various job roles across sectors. A few good habits helped me become better while a few bad habits also weakened my prospects.
My past education and work experiences across geographies:
- Bachelor’s in Mechanical Engineering, New Delhi
- Mechanical Engineering roles in Hyderabad (South India) and Noida (North India)
- Production Trainee
- Design Trainee
- Economic Research in Dubai
- Master’s in Finance, Milan
- PhD in Economics, Innsbruck (not complete yet)
- Research in Applied Sciences in Dornbirn, Vorarlberg:
- Insurance Project: Asset Liability Management
- Developed software using R and Shiny Apps
- Banking Project: Stress Testing Research
- Worked on one of my best Research Papers that included a lot of Python coding
- Data Science: Machine Learning
- Built sophisticated Deep Learning Models using Python
- Insurance Project: Asset Liability Management
- Entrepreneurship and Web Development projects in Dornbirn:
- Crypto Web3 project on the Algorand Blockchain
- Web2 development
- React, TypeScript
- Python FastAPI backend
As you can see, I have worked on a whole range of different roles always pushing myself out of my comfort zone. Hence, my suggestions below can help anyone feeling stuck in their jobs and careers to bite some risks and make giant leaps to greener pastures.
How to get a better job and career?
- Drop bad habits, embrace good habits
- Plan for both the short and the long term
- Personal branding
- Learning and development
- Start a side hustle and grow
- Mentor those who ask for it
- Apply and interview for all kinds of jobs
1. Drop bad habits, embrace good habits
The first step to a better job and career is something you already know you should be doing. For most of my early career, I thought I would do fine embracing only new good habits without dropping my bad habits. But over time I realized that bad habits impact your health enough to keep you away from your 100% professional potential.
Most bad habits do not just affect your health, but also take a toll on your wallet and peace of mind. While this may seem manageable in the beginning, the huge amount of savings that you could have otherwise had will impact your confidence and ability to think big in your thirties.
If you drink, smoke, and spend money and time lavishly during the early stages of your career, you must understand that the faster you quit and embrace austerity the better you will feel a few years ahead.
Exercising, eating healthy, cleanliness, organization, sleeping on time, etc are good habits you must strive for. I can swear on observing better productivity just by following these simple good habits.
2. Plan for both the short and the long term
Short-term goals are easier to achieve while planning for long-term goals is better for your career. Thinking only about the short term may make you feel clueless or directionless ahead in the future. Thinking only about the long term may make you lazy and less opportunistic.
Ideally, you need to take short-term actions that give you immediate feedback and let you to amend your future actions for better success. Following a framework like the After-Action Review method will let you make continuous improvements and achieve your larger long-term goals.
3. Personal branding: Share what you create
A lot of people find my blog to be silly, especially with the narcissistic name: “Milan Ka Raja” which means “King of Milan”. But here is a secret:
When this blog attracts 1000 visitors a day, no one will be calling it a silly blog anymore. Moreover, when that happens, the same people will want me to share their guest posts as well. A few past critics are already seeking collaboration now.
Sure, there is slight narcissism involved in your personal branding. But “King of Milan” is an emotion I felt when I saw myself transit from a complete stranger in Italy to a successful sales executive for a top global financial services company, selling to Italians in Italian. My blog was inspired by this emotion of progress and the urge to spread my word across.
Over time, this same blog has become a topic of discussion in several job interviews. Imagine what impact you can have if your recruiter is invested enough in you to read through your blog. This one time, a recruiter had no intention to hire me but was so keen on meeting me nonetheless. Each job interview should be seen as a step forward towards your destination of getting the perfect job!
Don’t just stop with a blog, make a vlog and create all kinds of content. Upload some projects on Github if you are a wannabe developer. Once done, share all the links on Linktree.
4. Learning and development
Learning is a lifelong process. When I started my bachelor’s studies I did have a lot of study methods sorted out but would end up unlearning it all and learning it once again. This would continue to happen again and again throughout my life. There is no single path to your study destination. That is why learning is fun for me. To discover the optimal study method for each topic or subject.
Learning a language for a new job
For instance, I do very well in studying any topic in English, but learning new languages has not been easy for me. When I moved to New Delhi in North India from Hyderabad in South India, I transitioned from using English as my primary language to using more Hindi. The consequence was a drop in temporary productivity but the discovery and growth of a new personality.
With this confidence in speaking a new language, I took on additional risks like moving to Italy. I was not worried that my progress in learning Italian was much slower as I knew deep down that I could do it. And slowly over time, I spoke more Italian to finally do a sales job in Italian. I only spoke Italian in the last two years in Milan while I spoke mainly English in the first two years. Speaking a new language makes you want to practice it more, go out, meet people and speak more.
A lot of jobs require interpersonal skills and a lot of enthusiasm. If you want a new exciting job, learn a popular foreign language and move to a new country. A lot of your skills will already be valued much more in some other parts of the world. The only thing stopping you is your ability to speak the new language.
When I moved to Austria from Italy, I wanted to really up my tech and quantitative skills. 4 years in a research job in applied sciences, I focused entirely on all the skills apart from learning German really well. The end result is I am very much satisfied with my ability to code well, apply and understand complex mathematics and economics well, and even write better. Currently, I am focusing again on mastering the German language because life is easier in a foreign land when you speak the local language. The more you learn, the easier it gets to learn.
5. Start a side hustle and grow
Starting a side hustle has been very important for my growth. Firstly, once you take initiative to do your own thing you end up taking ownership of your work in a whole different way. For example, this blog post can be written in many ways. I can hire someone to write on this topic and expect them to put in a certain number of hours. The work they produce would have few reasons to be as explicit as this post. Because you write for some hours, edit for some hours, apply SEO for some more hours and then market it with a further investment of time. Hence, hiring anyone to work on this blog post for 10 hours would mean they write the content only for 2-3 hours. On the other hand, I have spent a lot more time just drafting this blog post.
One of the biggest weaknesses I find in most job candidates is the lack of ownership they take in their work. In my last job, I was initially hired for a project but as I began taking more ownership, my responsibilities also began to increase. To be able to think like your boss you must become a boss yourself. A side hustle that gives you flexibility will help in your all-around development and ability to leapfrog ahead to greener pastures.
6. Mentor those who ask for it
Mentoring younger clueless professionals may seem like a distraction, but it only becomes a distraction if you don’t use it for your own growth. Many people reach out to me for guidance and help. After spending time talking to each one of them, I realized that the best plan of action for me was to consolidate my discussions into a blog post that will be useful to a bigger audience. Moreover, as I compile this I hope to get the clarity needed to make a big career jump myself. Mentoring is the best way to recruit people for your side hustle. You can push them to over-deliver without expecting to be paid just like in an unpaid internship.
But focus first on giving and less on taking. Once you have given enough advice and mentorship, you can then take a little help from a fully trained professional for your side-hustle.
7. Apply and Interview for all kinds of jobs
This tip may sound counterproductive to a lot of people and may even be so. While one must be focused on one particular type of job to get it, you could very well put yourself in an unfavorable job situation if you have not done your job market research very well. Only by speaking with numerous recruiters are you in a position to best judge what is the best for you and your career.
Moreover, why forego the opportunity to speak with industry professionals who may provide you with keen insight into the trajectory and trend of the job market? Being unemployed has always been my favorite time for all-around growth because I end up speaking with a whole range of interesting people.
When you interview for smaller start-ups, you learn a lot about how to build your own side gig. When you speak with bigger organizations, you learn more about best practices. The more you interview the better your understanding of the world becomes.
Conclusion: How to build a successful career?
End of the day, while you do control most of the uncertainty in your hiring, there are always some factors beyond your control. You can follow points 1-7 and get a job or just follow point 7 and get the same job. The job market is inefficient and biased because it is managed by busy humans using silly tools to sort your candidature.
Most others would guide you on tips to game the job market. In this post, I provide tips that holistically make you a sound job candidate that I would hire.