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What You’re Working on…and How it Matters

Rachel Serwetz
Rachel Serwetz
March 21, 2016
What You’re Working on…and How it Matters

Any given job will require multiple responsibilities that can take shape in many ways: your basic day-to-day responsibilities, extra projects (improving the process/researching the industry/etc.), which can be self-created or requested of you, small/administrative tasks, and more.

People often make judgments about some of these types of work. I’m here to dispel a few of those.

1. Doing the Small Things

No one is going to want to take the meeting minutes, set up the meeting for the senior VP, print out the decks, book the meeting room, put together the list of contacts, etc.

When these opportunities come up, gauge who is asking. If this is your direct manager or anyone above him/her, jump to volunteer. Yes, ideally, you will volunteer for bigger projects as well, but doing the things no one wants to do shows that you are a team player and can get things done. These things do make a huge difference although they may not be as enjoyable to get done. The team and your manager will appreciate you for it and start to see you as a go-to person.

These tasks can also be self-led. Simple but not-so-glamorous tasks (maybe you clean up your team’s files because they are unorganized or improve your new joiner training program), surprisingly, do not even take so long to get done, but will take you a long way. They are a quick win to accomplish. They will improve your team and improve others’ perception of you. They should not be the only projects you shoot for, but looking out for your team in this holistic way will indeed be looked upon positively by your seniors.

2. Say Yes: Take a Project & Run

When a project is given to you, this can be for a few reasons. Perhaps your manager(s) gave thought before handing it to you that you would be the right person to accomplish the task or that it would be a good opportunity for you. Other than this and in many cases, it is plausible that it is simply something that needs to get done.

Whether others see this project as glamorous or not, if it is given to you, take it and run with it. Any time this situation arises, it is an opportunity to put your best foot forward, show your skills in project/stakeholder management and successful ability to follow up and deliver. The minute you complain about doing a certain project (and ask to be re-assigned), you have lost a huge opportunity to question the status quo, to enhance an existing flow, to forge a positive perception of yourself.

If it is an existing role or project being handed over, one can often judge based on the current perception of that role or project. However, if you think differently about whatever that task is, think strategically and critically, you will come out on top because you’ve then just made it sexy.

You never know what you will learn, who you will meet and who will be impressed with your work after doing a certain project. Do not assume it is just manual, boring and not important work. Rather, take that project and crush it. Continually having this attitude will lead you closer to the bigger, better, sexier project assignments.

3. Think Big- Create your Project

Ideally, you have the room in your role to start your own projects based on what you see that either needs to change or warrants some further research.

If this room exists in your job, self-led projects will show your strategic thinking, commercial mindset, and more. Make sure to bring up such ideas to your manager(s) so they see that you are understanding the concepts of your industry and that you are thinking about the betterment of your team and your firm.

A combination of these three types of work, on top of the fundamental and basic efficacy in your day to day requirements, is precisely what will get you noticed. Sometimes it’s the small things that get you far.

What You’re Working on…and How it Matters

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Rachel Serwetz’ early professional experience was at Goldman Sachs in Operations and at Bridgewater Associates in HR. From there, she was trained as a coach at NYU and became a certified coach through the International Coach Federation. After this, she worked in HR Research at Aon Hewitt and attained her Technology MBA at NYU Stern. Throughout her career, she has helped hundreds of professionals with career exploration and for the past 4.5+ years she has been building her company, WOKEN, which is an online career exploration platform to coach professionals through the process of clarifying their ideal job and career path. She is also an Adjunct Professor of Entrepreneurship at Binghamton University and has served as a Career Coach through the Flatiron School, Columbia University, WeWork, and Project Activate.

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