- Maureen Dillon 09.07.2015
As a new web professional, you’re probably excited about what the future holds and the flexibility of your new career path. But you may be a bit nervous too, being in uncharted territory. This is completely natural considering the fact that the virtual world is a pretty competitive one these days. However, in the words of President Rutherford B. Hayes: “The expert in anything was once a beginner.”
We at Green Egg have been there, on the edge of this expansive “next frontier” in the web development and design field. We get ya. So, allow us to mentor you on the eight habits you should possess to ensure your success in your company and field in the future.
Being virtual isn’t an excuse to be rude or inconsiderate. Web professionals are supposed to be respectful, even though they will sometimes never meet their clients face-to-face. There’s no place for disrespect in this industry, just like in any other industry, regardless of whether they’re new professionals or seasoned experts. Sure, clients can be challenging and tricky to handle. However, the day they stop calling you with their questions, requests or reminders, is the day you go back to your desk job. And if they’ve stopped calling because you’re rude or unresponsive, good luck finding one.
So, the minute you feel even a tad agitated, remind yourself that you’re here because of your clients and not the other way around. This doesn’t mean that you should suffer a client who disrespects you personally or professionally. Know how to identify an abusive client from a distressed or even slightly needy one and you’re good to go.
Curiosity may have killed the cat, but it’ll ensure the long life of your career in this industry. If you’re part of an agency, there’s usually a learning curve and your employer should be expecting a lot of questions from your end. Therefore, don’t hesitate to ask questions to learn and tap into the font of knowledge that veterans are able to impart. This is especially true if you don’t get an orientation session on your first day.
If you really want to make your education worthwhile, ask for guidance while you’re doing the work itself. Of course we don’t want to advise you to go running off the reservation on projects you’re not ready for. But being proactive and learning on the go are great qualities to add to a team. Your peers will respect you for giving it a go on your own first, but also for knowing when to ask for help.
Being inquisitive is the starting point of readiness to learn as much as you can during your professional life. Whenever you have free time on your hands, consider reading new tips, techniques and best practices your industry has adopted. This means a few more hours in front of your computer after work to master what you learned. However, all your effort will be worthwhile. For starters, you’ll discover some of the latest technologies and offer your clients more value.
By sharing what you learned with others, you’ll also demonstrate your passion for this industry and dedication to the growth of your company. Both of these will reflect positively on your career and ensure your success.
During your initial days, you may try impressing your manager or team members by accomplishing tasks quickly. Unfortunately, racing through a task can undermine precision and increase the risk of bugs and errors. Your efforts to seem efficient may easily go down the drain when it requires a major time investment on the part of your seniors to correct your messy, hacky code or work. Team trust is very important in every industry. For web professionals, who often don’t have the same degree of face time with their colleagues, trust is especially valuable. You have to feel certain that your teammates are putting in the quantity and quality of hours needed to deliver a product that meets your clients expectations and your company’s standards.
If your team leader or teammates uncover missing key elements, inaccurate functions, or even spelling mistakes in your work that arise from carelessness or rushed work, you are breaking down trust. Therefore, find the right balance between speed and accuracy to truly win your manager over and establish your feet firmly at your company and industry. Giving your work a once over before submitting it is a good starting point. You can also have one of your mentors check it for you until you feel more comfortable with the technologies and company standards you are working in. Hey, that’s why they’re there. They’re not there to do a bunch of rework for you.
Web-related professions aren’t your regular 9-5 jobs. Inspiration may hit you just as you’re about to leave work, so a “punch in/punch out” mentality isn’t effective. It can break your momentum and affect your creativity.
Similarly, when deadlines arise, you have to be flexible enough to work beyond the usual work hours. Still, while your dedication will be recognized and appreciated by your company and clients, you need to remember that you have a home to go to and a life to live. If you work from home, finding the appropriate break point between work life and normal life can be even more challenging. Therefore, find a balance between your personal and professional time to avoid missing opportunities or stressing yourself to the point of burnout.
Contrary to some techy stereotypes, web services demand good communication skills. They are vital in gathering information about your clients’ needs and goals for your projects. If you’re communicative, you can get your ideas across and ask the right questions of your clients to best determine what they really want. Possessing this habit will increase your value to your team and could prompt them to entrust you with more responsibility.
The basic ability to ask the right questions, listen attentively, and answer questions clearly and completely will always be an asset. Expect your clients to bombard you with their own questions on progress, problems, and solutions. You need to be able to provide them with the information they need and manage their expectations of delivery. Honesty is also key. If you can’t deliver, be honest. If you don’t have a clear concept of what your client needs, ask for more details.
You need to be open to the idea of being part of a community, so hone in on your social skills. Start with the community at your workplace or your remote team. Be where the other employees are and attend events or activities regardless of how small or big. If you’re remote, do your best to get to know your colleagues at a distance and establish good rapport with co-workers. Build relationships with the people working with you, always keeping it professional, but with a grounding in personal respect and appreciation.
Also, integrate yourself in the web community. Attend meet-ups, networking events and similar gatherings to gain knowledge and learn from others’ experiences. Jump on forums and be active in asking, and also answering, questions about the technologies you’re working with. Participating in these will further establish your roots in the web community and build your confidence, effectiveness as part of your team, and knowledge base.
As simple as this may sound, staying positive can be a challenge. Since you’re new, you’re bound to be confused or unsure as to what to do next. This, in turn, causes stress which further leads to negativity. So fight for positivity and keep negativity at bay. There is a lot to learn and explore in your new industry, so meet the challenges with confidence and humility—these are the secret ingredients to positivity. After all, positivity makes your work easier to face and actually encourages others too.
Bonus Habit – Fun-Loving – You can’t be successful in the web industry if you’re not ready to have some fun. This doesn’t mean that you should be exchanging jokes all the time or planning pranks. It means finding ways to relax with your team and just be at ease. Have fun at work or consider finding another place. Don’t worry; with the former eight habits in the bag, you’ll be a catch. Stephan Covey eat your heart out.