Career tip: Learning and growing

Weekender

By THOMAS HUKAHU
IN last week’s career tip I urged you to give your best shot in your first 100 days at work.
That is, to get past the probationary period and be taken on as a permanent staff.
Now that you are a permanent worker where you are, let us discuss things you can to become better as a worker and person.

Are you enjoying the job?
So, are you enjoying your new work environment?
Are you happy making new friends in the workplace?
Are you learning new stuff, skills that you have not learned before?
If so, I am sure you will be motivated to turn up for work well before time and stay a bit longer before going home.
It is likely that your supervisors may notice your eagerness to learn and after a few months make comments to that effect.
It is certain that some tasks that you would be doing will be challenging but try to take that on as part of you learning more skills to make you become more effective as a worker in that field.
When I left teaching to start in journalism as a newspaper reporter, my first day at work was a “normal work day”.
I can still remember accompanying a female colleague to cover a news conference at the National Research Institute (in Port Moresby) in the morning and then in the afternoon tagged along with another reporter to a hotel to cover another news conference there.
One of my articles on those conferences was run the very next day in the paper. It was my first time ever to write a news story but the article was run the very next day – there was no one-week training first and then a week of adjustment, it was work as well as training on the very first day.
But then, there were editors as well as experienced reporters who helped guided me on my learning curve.
In some firms or organisations, you may be given a few weeks or a couple of months to get used to the new environment before you start on your individual tasks.
In others, it will be work from day one, so be aware of that.

Skills and experience are valuable
It is likely that after a few months spent on the job where you are, you might be feeling that you are not earning enough and possibly considering leaving to seek opportunities where you are going to paid more.
You know, I have said in the past that it is always wise to stay on for a few years before moving on (unless there is an immediate need to do so).
The reason is the new skills learned and mastered by you will make you a much better staff than if you just changed jobs for more money.
The experience you gain will give you an advantage over others in the future.
Some firms or organisations will want recruits who do not just have qualification, they will list experience also as a requirement for any applicant interested to join them.
Recently I learned from a YouTube video of Japanese computer scientist living in the US that today’s hi-tech companies that interview software engineers or computer scientists for jobs in their firm do not just look at their university certificates, they ask them if they have actually built or adapted a programme for a task.
They even test them for their skills.
Your experience in staying a bit longer in your job will make you more valuable.
Let me emphasise that money alone is a not a good reason for you to change jobs. At times, the need to learn new skills is more important than the money you may be paid.
When I first went for my job interview for a reporter’s job, they asked what I was paid in the last job. I told them the amount and later the human resource manager emailed me my acceptance letter but he said the firm would be starting me on K700 a fortnight.
Knowing that that was much less than what I was paid in my previous job did not stop me from accepting the job offer.
I had other goals in mind, and one of them was to learn journalism so I can later apply the skills and ethics learned in the trade to some personal writing projects that I had in mind.
I am glad to say that the decision was a good one. I learned heaps of skills in years to come and had privileges added on as I continued to learn.
In years to come, I was offered jobs in other firms but I had to kindly turn them down for my own reasons.
For me, there was no the thrill in just moving on to another job, or even the offer of better pay.
You will have moments like that too in the future when people know that you are experienced and possess vital skills. They will come looking for you. But you have to make your own choice.
Would moving away from where you are help you get to long-term goals you have made?
That is something that you must decide. And that privilege comes to those who have mastered skills in their trade.

Start on a savings plan
I mentioned in my previous article that as soon as you can, you must start saving money.
Open a savings account that is not your daily transactional account. It would be where you save funds for future use.
Your normal day-to-day account is one that you use to buy food for the house, pay the electricity and water bills and draw from to get coins for bus fare.
Commercial banks (like BSP, ANZ or Westpac) can advise you on which savings accounts you can use.
Savings and loans societies and the National Development Bank are also good places to save in. They have different packages that you can choose from.
Try saving K50 to K100 a fortnight, depending on how much you are paid.
K100 saved each fortnight would mean, at the end of the year you would have K2,600 in your savings account.
Your savings account will help you in many ways.
Firstly, it will take care of emergencies as when your child or spouse has a health problem and needs treatment. You do not have to look for dinau money (which charges high interest) to sort out such needs.
We Melanesians also have our cultural obligations with traditional rituals that we must help with, and our savings can help assist our relatives with such.
Secondly, savings can help you with your plans to go for further studies.
Remember that learning does not end when you work. You will learn new stuff in your workplace but if you need to go for further studies, try to save money to pay for your school fees.
When I was teaching, I had some money put aside in a fund for a few years. When it was time for me to leave my province and spend a year in Goroka to do my one-year teaching diploma, some of that money helped pay for my airfares and tuition fees.
I did not ask anyone for a loan.
Thirdly, savings can help you pay for a vacation.
As an employee in your firm, you are entitled to an annual leave of three weeks.
If you are not travelling back to your own province, why don’t you take a week off and travel to a centre in our beautiful country, one you have never visited before? (That is possible if you are single or have a small family.)
If you plan to do so, your savings will help pay for your airfares and possibly accommodation in a nice lodge.
Fourthly, you may want to buy a car or banana boat and motor engine.
The savings you have can be used as security to help you get a loan from your bank to purchase those items.
Fifthly, if you have a long-term goal of starting your own business in years to come, then you must start saving.
I have heard and read advice from all sorts of business gurus and entrepreneurs about starting a business and I think the best come from those who say that “your seed capital must come from your savings”.
That is to say, the money that will start off your business plan must not come from loans but from your savings.
I heard American businessman and investor Mike Cuban saying (in a video) that “only morons borrow to start their businesses”.
Other successful businessmen would tell you to “save aggressively”. Some say you must save K40 for every K100 that you make (or 40% of that).
I know that is quite strong but they have done it and are now successful.
Take a look at the possibility of practising aggressive saving.
If you are paid K25,000 a year, that means if you follow a 40% savings plan, you would save K10,000 in a year. And in four years, you would have saved K40,000.
Would that not be sufficient to start your business then?
Let me state one more thing about saving: People who save a lot generally do not drink alcohol or smoke cigarettes. They know that such habits just consume unnecessary funds.
It is something for you to think about and decide for yourself.
There are other reasons why you should save money, but those five listed are the main ones.

Learn outside your workplace
Here is another thing I suggest you should do in developing yourself as an employee.
In your workplace, you will learn many new skills. However, try to learn other stuff outside of your workplace also – possibly in line with your hobbies or pastimes.
They can include playing the guitar, learning foreign languages, photography or writing scripts. (Actually, those listed hobbies happen to be mine too.)
Such skills when developed can be listed on your CV too, when you apply for your next job.
When I was working in journalism, I usually look out for short-training opportunities and ensure I pay the fees to participate in such. I usually draw from my savings to enable me to participate in such programmes.
One of my interests is learning foreign languages and I was privileged to have learned French with Alliance Française (AF) de Port Moresby for a number of years.
On Saturday mornings, for about 20 weeks in a year and for a number of years, I would attend French classes with AF.
In 2012, I was given a small scholarship by AF to attend an immersion programme in Nouméa, New Caledonia, where I applied my skills in the language.
That in turn opened up another opportunity for me in 2013 – to be the press attaché for Team PNG participating in Wallis and Futuna, a French territory in Polynesia.
When I went for the interview with the panel in charge of putting together the management team for the PNG delegation, I was told that many professionals applied for the press attaché’s position but I was the only one who had a working knowledge of the French language. I was therefore offered the role.
That assignment opened up other opportunities which I may share with you in the future.
The point here is: Continue to learn outside of your workplace and make yourself better as an employee as well as a person.

  • Next week: Going up or going out. Thomas Hukahu is a freelance writer.

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