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5 Lessons Learned: My First Year as an Associate

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This July, I will reach my one-year mark at Perficient as an Associate Business Consultant in the Sitecore Business Unit, based in Atlanta, GA. I decided to write this blog as an opportunity to share a few of the many lessons that I have learned throughout this past year. These lessons are meant to be valuable to all career levels – senior consultant, director, or an associate first starting out!

1. Advocate For Yourself

I know my strengths. I know my weaknesses. I know the goals I’ve set for myself. When I was onboarding onto my first project, I knew I was the only one who understood these things about myself. It was important that I stayed true to myself to take advantage of the opportunities that I not only excelled at but enjoyed. This helped me gain confidence as a consultant and become a valuable member of my team. Don’t be afraid to speak up about the contributions you bring to your team. It took me some time to feel comfortable advocating for myself, but it is very important to do.

2. Take Breaks When Needed

When I first started working, I never explicitly asked my supervisor or career counselor if I was allowed to take breaks throughout the day. I assumed I was supposed to be working by my computer all day. I realized this was not the most efficient way for me to work and my tasks took me longer than they needed to if I was working efficiently. Whether it was the 2:00 pm fog that hit or my caffeine started to wear off, I realized I needed to take a break! Calling a friend, walking outside, or eating a snack were all good break options that helped to recharge my brain and allowed me to focus when it was time to go back to my desk. Pace yourself throughout the day while adjusting to the 9-5 corporate life!

3. Don’t Be Afraid to Speak Up

I know we have all heard the phrase “there is no such thing as dumb questions”, but it can be intimidating to ask questions or share your opinion when more experienced colleagues surround you. During the first couple of months of my first project, I was too nervous to share my feedback during our sprint retrospectives. Instead of sharing with the full team, I would share with another BA one-on-one. She told me I had really good feedback and gave me the confidence I needed to be able to share my opinion with the full team. It takes time to get used to it, but I promise your feedback is just as important as a senior colleague’s. You wouldn’t be on the team if that wasn’t the case.

4. Stay Organized

While this may seem self-explanatory, I cannot stress enough how important it is to stay organized. I learned I work the most efficiently when I have a clean desk, my inbox isn’t overflowing with emails, and my calendar is up to date. On Monday mornings, I set aside fifteen minutes to plan and organize for the week ahead. This small step allows me to stay on top of everything that needs to get done and de-clutters my brain! It may be a small change, but I have become a stronger employee by simply staying organized.

5. Set Career Goals

One aspect of life at Perficient that I learned to really take advantage of was career planning & setting goals. When billing 40 hours a week, it is easy to put your career & professional growth plans on the back burner. Veronica, my Career Counselor, has helped assist me in setting short & long-term career goals, focusing on my strengths & weaknesses, and utilizing all the career growth resources available to me. For example, I decided I wanted to get one certification within my first 6 months. I am now a certified Scrum Master! I highly recommend sitting down and writing out goals you want to achieve, no matter how small they may be!

I hope that some of these lessons were able to resonate with you! These are just five of the many lessons I have learned throughout my first year at Perficient and I am looking forward to adding to the list throughout my career.

Thoughts on “5 Lessons Learned: My First Year as an Associate”

  1. I am approaching my 1st year as well and this is spot on! I am curious how you manage your career growth with the level of billable hrs? Do you just do additional hours to then be able to focus on a certificate etc? This has been a struggle for me and something I’d like to find a solution to. There’s so many learning opportunities!

  2. Grayson Harden Post author

    Brandy, thanks for the comment! Billable work always comes first, so I just tried to find the time when I wasn’t as busy to focus on training/studying for certifications/etc.

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Grayson Harden

My name is Grayson Harden. I am an Associate Business Consultant working out of the Atlanta office and will be blogging about my experiences and knowledge gained at Perficient!

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