Ashwin Prasad
Guest Article

1000 days into corporate life...

Starting your career and steering it to different roads can be hard. Before you realise, you will be dealing with stuff you never knew existed. Job switches, career risks, the 'exposure' con and your mid-life crisis. This little capsule of an article may give you basic immunity from certain hiccups that could come your way. One thing guaranteed, no harm in reading.

1000 days into corporate life, I would like to share a few insights from my own experiences that may help newcomers evade the same problems and tackle different ones. I do not qualify to advise anyone but you can consider this as a letter from a man who has started the journey slightly ahead of you and might save you from some hiccups.

Let me start this note the Finance minister's way with a Tamil saying.

Seiyum Thozhile Deivam (Your profession is divine)

No job is bad job. Motivation porn tricks you into believing otherwise. According to them, if you aren't building your dreams you are a loser. Untrue. A career is a choice of lifestyle. It is totally cool to have a 9-5 job and a humble designation with a peaceful life.

Your profession is what puts food on your plate. Approach that with all the love and sincerity you can. The times get difficult, there can be stress but that does not mean you need to crib all the while and have a step-motherly attitude at work. If you aren't happy at work, change your job; not your attitude towards work. You feed love, it loves you back multi-fold.

When you begin your career, everything is new and tempting. Like entering an ice cream parlour. There are too many flavors (domains and industries). The strategy is yours - You can risk eating the new and unknown flavours (domains irrelevant to your course and no formal training to enter) or go ahead with your favourites (areas of your undergrad study/prior knowledge). You sure can't have it all at one go (juggling too many areas) - You'll probably fall sick (unemployed / confused / average skilled). If the risk proves to be fruitful in your first attempt, you got lucky. Else, give it some time so that you forget and try again. Going with the latter gives you stability, financially and morally. However, I am an advocate of failing early and fast and hence took the first path.

Be careful on what you are sold to as "exposure". The big people in the big world out here will tell you that you are unfit, good for nothing and that they are the messiahs who can lead you to the path of light. They are right about you not being fit. No freshman ever was. That's why you start as a trainee and need to work your way up. Everyone who claims to have seen it all, need not know it all. Don't let them belittle you. There is a price tag for your energy and talent and the right people will always be willing to pay the price. Like they say, "Exposure can't pay your bills".

Identify yourself for one skill and become a God. Repeat this for other skills. One after the other. Make sure that you have a new/updated skill set every time Apple announces a new iPhone. This is a crucial factor to survive and thrive : Your Skill-Set.

Switching jobs frequently is frowned upon. It is a bad practice that kills discipline in you but that should not come at the cost of having a satisfying career. It's okay to switch domains till you find peace with one. Do it early in your career. It's difficult to do it as you climb up the ladder. Switch only if you have a consistent urge to experiment a new space and not because you watched a really inspirational piece of content and thought that you could become Steve Jobs next week.

Work for great bosses. Screw the pay till you learn enough. You can choose to ignore all else in this article if you stick to this. Great bosses don't preach or teach. They involve you and are happy to see you do better without their guidance.

Social media is only a test tube that can carry a solution. Don't confuse it for the solution itself. Use it wisely.

Ideas are not worth a million dollars. Execution is. Do it. A plan on paper looks a lot different from the one in reality. Trust me here.

Lastly, put yourself first. If you are a workaholic, make sure you take a break from work when you feel stressed or get trapped in monotony. Have a personal life. Keep your best people in the best of spirits. End of the day, this journey is for you and them. Make it count.

Hope this will help you some day.

(The author is the founder and frontman - UniRetail Consumer Brands)