‘Help I’ve broken it again’ and other stories from my Year In Industry so far (part 2)

Hi, me again! I’m back with part 2 of my blog. This time, after about 6 months on placement, I’m talking to you about being successful and making the most of your placement. This blog is adapted from my larger piece here.

Be confident

Even if you’re not, pretend you are. Most of the time people won’t notice, and I even had someone tell me that it was weird how calm and confident I was. It’s entirely normal to be nervous or scared, but you can control how you let it affect you. You know what you’re capable of and there’s nothing more you can do except give it your best shot. If that isn’t good enough yet then so be it – accept it, learn from it, and move on.

Randomness & Optionality

Josh Wolfe coined this concept of Randomness & Optionality. In short, the idea is that everything is an obvious linear chain of events after the fact, but before (and at the time) there’s no obvious path, and you have no idea what will come next. To me, it means putting yourself out there to create seemingly random opportunities and being open (and brave) enough to take them. It’s almost like creating your own luck, it feels like you were just in the right place at the right time!

Don’t always take the easy route

You learn the most when you’re actually doing something (especially when you have no other choice but to learn) and you grow the most as a person when you’re outside of your comfort zone. Don’t always take the easy route – try to figure things out on your own since it’ll lead to a much better understanding of how things work and how they fit together. If you’ve been at it a while and you’re not getting anywhere, ask your team. They will support you when you need it, and you should never be afraid to ask questions.

Read everything

Immerse yourself in the goings-on of your team, and the wider company. This might not work for everyone, but I’ve found it very useful to quickly gain context to a lot of questions that come up and to have a solid mental model of how things fit together. Think of each piece of information you read or hear as a piece of the jigsaw puzzle.

Look after your mental health

Starting your first job can be tough, but your mental health is incredibly important. I try to approach everything with a positive attitude. Think positive and, more often than not, the outcome will be positive (or at least, you can spin it into a positive).

 I write about the problem that I’m facing and break it down since 99% of the time it’s smaller than it seemed. This also opens the door to making a plan. Once you know what the problem actually is, you can determine how best to influence it. If you can’t do anything about it, it’s not worth thinking about.

From my perspective, these are the most important bits of advice I can give you that will hopefully make your placement a successful one. I hope that parts 1 and 2 of this blog have given you some actionable information and that you found it useful. Don’t hesitate to get in touch if you need some advice and, if you haven’t read part 1 of the blog yet, click here!