Ask Matt: Entry-Level Work can be the Foundation of a Successful Career

  • Article by: MATT KRUMRIE , Star Tribune Sales and Marketing
  • Updated: August 2, 2010 - 1:54 PM

The benefits of starting low - to get a job - and working your way up. For example, starting as counter help at a coffee shop and working your way up into management or you may meet a person that leads to your future job.

Dear Matt: Everyone is telling me it's good to get a job - any job - to get some experience. Even if it's an entry-level job. Why is this important to start from the bottom and work my way up? What are the benefits of this?

Matt: The advice you are getting is correct - an entry-level job is a great place to hone/develop skills that can help you throughout your career.

Terese Corey Blanck, founder of Emerging Advantage (emergingadvantage.com), a Twin Cities-based company which helps organizations develop entry-level employees, agrees.

"Entry-level work is serious work," says Blanck. "This is the time to gain hard skills and professional skills to become a true asset to an organization. Many of the skills you will learn are transferable and are useful in other organizations when you're ready to move on."

In addition, you'll be able to explore whether this type of organization and this type of job fits the career path you envisioned. You'll uncover what drives you, and find things that connect to your passion, which can allow you to really succeed in a career, says Blanck. You'll meet new people and make connections who could become great professional contacts in the future. And, you may find that you love the organization and want to carve out a long career path there. It may also give you a better idea of the type of company and environment you don't want to work in. Each job and company has something to learn from - good or bad.

That first or second job - whether it's your dream job or a job you dread - is where you develop critical thinking skills and professional communication skills (often lacking in entry-level talent), and how to be self-sufficient in problem solving through issues that arise in the job, says Blanck. You'll experience a new culture within the organization and begin to unravel how you fit in or do not fit in this type of culture. You'll also learn how to deal with different co-workers, management, new customers/clients and other business professionals.

"Every organization is different," says Blanck. "Instead of looking at it as starting from the bottom, look at it as starting from the foundation - gaining insight and experience from the very base of the organization."

Insight and experience that can help shape your career now - and in the future.

Do you have an employment related or job search question for Matt? E-mail him today at askmatt@startribune.com.

All responses will be in the paper and no names will be used to protect your privacy.

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