In celebration of Women’s History Month, we’re introducing We Belong, a new series where women and allies at Intel help you with career questions and life challenges by sharing their personal stories, advice, and expertise showinghow they – and you – belong on the team.
Cailin O’Mara, Intel HR Marketing and Communications
I spent 22 years in classrooms—22 years learning about the “real world” and preparing for my career through a traditional education path. Once the confetti fell and I had my diplomas in hand, I left the hypothetical world and joined Intel’s HR Marketing and Communications team.
As I learned firsthand, the transition from school life to work life can sometimes be hard. I had to build my network of people and learn new cultural norms as I navigated this giant company with very different expectations.
In the last six months, I have learned many lessons never taught in textbooks that have helped me establish a sense of belonging. Here are a few tips to help you with your own career journey.
- Look at a new company as a learning opportunity. In school I knew what to do and how to do it. I knew how to find a study group, write a research paper, and where to get help if I needed it. When I joined Intel, I had to start all over. I even had to rework my writing skills to fit the business I am in. It felt a little overwhelming, but I realized this is what school prepares us for. It not only trains us for our jobs, but teaches us a skill that is invaluable in any career—how to learn. I gave myself some grace and freedom to succeed and fail, learn and grow. A new company is an opportunity to learn, contribute, and (unike school) get paid for it. Embrace it!
- Ask questions and listen carefully. There is a reason children ask “WHY?” over and over again. Questions help us learn. In a new company, questions are a critical part of integrating successfully. Try to absorb the answers you receive and apply your new knowledge every day. It is okay not to know everyting. Employers want people who can learn, and they take notice when you do. If you can show your boss, your team, and your company that you have a strong capacity to learn, the biggest hurdle is behind you.
- Seriously, ask questions. This one is worth repeating.
- It is never too early to own your own career. Keep a running document of your successes. Be specific and take the time to identify metrics to support what made you succeed. In the same vein, keep track of your pain points, your weaknesses, the things that frustrated you. Identify them and talk about them with your manager. Present your desired areas of growth and development and ask for their input. Showing that you have invested time thinking about how to grow professionally is two-fold. It demonstrates your commitment to being a better employee and helps your manager manage you. Your manager is probably busy, so helping them identify what is important to you can make for a better career experience from the start.
- The relationships you form are more valuable than anything else in the workplace. People are the heart and soul of any company, and the heart and soul of making your workplace journey a positive one—especially on the hard days. Branch out, talk to people outside of your direct team, find people you can be vulnerable with. These people will be your partners and your advocates. After I started, I made it a point to get up from my seat and walk to talk to the people around me. Since most of my team is in another location, I often rely on people in a completely different group to bounce ideas off of. With completely different perspectives from my own, they have given me some of the best advice, and it often helps me bring a variety of ideas to my team meetings. Whether you have a good day or a bad day, make sure to keep positive relationships with those around you.
- Above all else, remember that everyone you work with is human. Show your coworkers the same grace that you would want to be shown if the roles were reversed. Everyone has real emotions—and a life outside of work. Forgive yourself, and others, for mistakes that are made along the way. Bumps in the road happen. Have honest conversations with each other. Treating others well can make all the difference in your workplace culture and your daily experiences.
Everyone’s career journey will be different. Embrace the ride. It can be a crazy one, but just remember we all start out somewhere. Do not lie to yourself about the challenges you face and the emotions you feel, but try to identify at least one way that challenge can be a silver lining and another step in your growth.
Ask questions, learn, build positive relationships, and respect those around you. I am incredibly grateful for the journey I am on and excited for the future. And I know, no matter where I go from here, #IBelong and so do you.
We Belong – on the team, in leadership, as allies.
Do you struggle feeling like you belong?
Have a burning career question or thorny challenge you’d like help tackling?
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