I am the father of two girls. A beautiful and sweet 4 year old named Stella, and an absolute hell-raiser of an 11 month old named Kate. The girls keep me busy, as does my job at The Arland Group.
There are certain things I accomplished in my career pre-kids, which I’m not sure I would have had the energy or time to tackle now. This post and list is for those young, childless and ambitious professionals that want to make a career mark before starting a family. All of these things are doable with kids, just much more complex and stressful. Get a head start if you can.
1. Bring value to your employer: In the first five years of your career, focus less on what your employer can offer you and more on what you can offer your employer. In the long run, it’s more important to bring value to your employer through new revenue streams and ideas than to worry about bringing value to your own pay check.
2. Be available: All the time, anywhere that is needed. Say yes to every opportunity and every meeting invitation. Spend a lot of time at the office and always offer to help everyone you work with. You don’t have to be the first one in and the last one to leave, but it doesn’t hurt to be close.
3. Network: One of the quickest ways to learn about business and advance your career is to socialize with people, groups and organizations with common interests. Something that is easy-to-do and fun when you don’t have to pick up your kids from daycare and get them in bed by 7:30 p.m.
4. Travel: Travel in general is good, but work travel is key to gaining your employer’s trust. I used to love work travel, but now it’s a nuisance and stress to my wife, kids and myself. If you’re young and childless, volunteer for every business trip you know about. Fight to go. Prove to your boss that it will be a great learning experience. Prove that you can do your boss’ job on the road, allowing him or her to stay home the next trip and send you instead.
5. Fight: Take risks. Fight for the work you believe in, even if your team or bosses don’t believe in it. Don’t give up. Youthful exuberance, even if completely misguided, is a wonderful thing and almost always excusable. I’d much rather see an employee take a wrong risk based on passion and conviction, then to take no risk at all.