What to know before you kickstart your career

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Our #ComeBackStronger campaign is focused on helping graduates and emerging talent bounce back from the impact of Covid-19 on their early careers. In this blog, Nicole Fenn, Client Services Manager at Sparta Global, shares her advice for those starting in their first full time roles and why it’s so important to “trust in the process & enjoy the journey” as you start out.

Nicole Fenn started her professional career with Sparta Global in 2013 after deciding University was not the path for her. Sparta Global was still based solely in Birmingham, with not alternative offices or Academies, operating out of a small barn with an even smaller number of employees.

 

Sparta Global was your first full time role, and you were one of the first employees too! If you could go back to that first day, what advice would you give yourself?

At the time, I had no idea what either the future of Sparta Global, or my career looked like! Although things have turned out pretty darn well, I’d tell myself, “trust in the process & enjoy the journey”. There have been times when I’ve worried so much about whether or not I was doing things right, or feeling out of depth due to my experience and age, that it isn’t until when I reflect now that I can tap myself on the back and say, well done.

 

How did you know the career you had selected with Sparta Global was the right one for you?

Looking back, I had no idea what I was stepping into when I joined the Sparta Global family but one thing that I did know was that I was surrounded by determined individuals who would not stop until we achieved our goals. So, for me, I had less of a focus around the career aspect and more on the forever evolving end goal. Of course, throughout my journey I’ve been fortunate enough to work in various roles to find out where I get my satisfaction from. I still don’t know what my ‘career’ will look like, but one thing is for certain, if I’m surrounded by people who have the same values as I do, then that’s career success.

 

I think it’s so important to find out what makes you tick. We spend so much time at work and we should be able to intertwine that with our personal happiness. For example, I love helping people. Whether that’s our Spartans, my peers, our clients - that’s what drives me.

 

What’s the best piece of career advice you’ve ever been given, and who did it come from?

The best piece of advice I’ve ever received, is from our CIO Tim Staton. Understanding the mechanics of the world of business can be challenging, especially when dealing with so many different types of people. Tim told me to “always kill people with kindness” and it’s something that I still say to myself daily. On the face of it, it seems really simple, but it’s such a powerful tool. Another piece of advice from a friend’s father was; “there is no such thing as luck, it’s when preparation meets opportunity”. I think about this often when reflecting on my Sparta Global journey. If you want something, whether it be a promotion or a new job, you’re never going to achieve it by luck - you have to prepare yourself for the opportunity.  

 

What would you say to someone who is unsure of their career path?

Ignore the noise.

There is nothing anywhere that says you must go to university to be successful, when I first told my teachers that I didn’t want to go University their reaction was anything but supportive. It was almost like they thought I was wasting all my years of education and throwing it away. Luckily for me, my parents have always told me to do what makes me happy and for me, going to University to do a degree for a job that I simply had no idea what I wanted to do - seemed ludicrous. If anything, making this decision and hearing the feedback made me even more determined. I was always going to work hard, it’s in my nature.

When I first started at Sparta Global, I was still working as a potato peeler and cleaning at the weekends. My mother called it character building - I personally found it to be torture - but I guess she was right. Being unsure is okay, it’s what you do with it that matters. It’s hard trying to navigate in a society that is fixated on the aspect of higher education, the amount of times I’ve heard the comments, “oh how come” or “that’s a shame” on my earlier choices… but that’s fine by me. Go with your gut, only listen to people who have your best intentions, find what makes you happy and the rest will fall into place. Anything is possible when you put your mind to it, after all, there is no such thing as luck it’s when preparation meets opportunity!