As we celebrate National Career Development Month this November, I want to share a few tips on how to elevate your professional journey. I’ve seen first-hand how even the smallest efforts in some of these areas can move the needle forward in an individual’s career progression. Flexibility, balance, and navigating the waves of your career journey are key focal points at Trailer Bridge, and I invite you to explore these principles with me. I believe these tips not only boost your career but also help foster personal growth and success sustainability.
Embrace Change and Flexibility
Adaptability is key in most careers, especially in the dynamic world of logistics. One of the Trailer Bridge core values, lovingly referred to as the TB12, is “Be Flexible & Embrace Change” which encourages our employees to view challenges as opportunities for growth. We’re in logistics – things move fast. If your response to change is “but this is how we’ve always done it” – there’s a chance you’re getting left behind.
If you’re having trouble with flexibility, be aware of your mindset and internal dialogue. Are you making negative assumptions that are holding you back? Try and redirect to keep that team player mindset and give people the benefit of the doubt. You’ll never know the whole story of why changes are being made so don’t assume you do, give it a chance.
Balance Work with Self-Care
Balance your professional ambitions with self-care to ensure sustainability. What does self-care look like to you? It’s important you know the answer to that question. Take breaks, prioritize your well-being, and recharge to maintain the energy required for long-term success. Keeping that energy high is one of the top ways to avoid burnout and ensure you are ready for the next big opportunity.
In a world buzzing with opportunities, your personal brand is your unique identifier. It’s the story you tell about your professional journey and will be how others perceive your value. Take the opportunity to position yourself as a thought leader. You should be consistently exploring how you can shape a narrative that elevates your career aspirations.
Don’t think of it as self-promotion but about authenticity and showcasing the unique blend of skills, experiences, and values that set you apart. Building a strong personal brand establishes credibility and opens doors to new opportunities. Whitney Croxton, our Vice President of Marketing & Communications here at Trailer Bridge feels particularly passionate about the importance of personal branding, “building a personal brand isn’t something to be thought of when you are seeking a new role, it is the foundation on which new opportunities can be built.”
Take the initiative to identify challenges and actively seek out solutions. Don’t sit back and wait for instruction. This not only showcases your leadership potential but also contributes to a positive and solution-oriented workplace culture. Help turn those roadblocks into opportunities, trust me- your leadership won’t forget it.
Grow Your Network
Networking is your career compass. Expand your professional connections to discover new opportunities. Attend industry events, engage on professional platforms, and cultivate relationships. My own personal success, as well as a key to Trailer Bridge’s success, is that it was built on strong networks that foster collaboration and growth. This includes networking internally within your company as well as externally and maintaining those connections over time- even if/when you leave your company.
Evaluate Your Skill Set Inventory
Regularly assess your skills to identify gaps and areas for improvement. Knowing your strengths and weaknesses allows you to steer your career in the right direction. While you’re at it, identify what in that inventory can be passed on to those around you to expand their skill sets. You do not have to be in a leadership position to help grow your peers or co-workers. If you’re regularly investing in those around you and you are not a leader now, you may very well find yourself in that leadership position very soon.
Volunteer to Obtain New Skills
Embark on a journey of learning by volunteering for projects, again internally and externally, that challenge and expand your abilities. Trailer Bridge encourages employees to take on diverse roles, fostering a culture of skill enrichment and personal development. Take on different roles, try new things, and keep the adventure alive. Identify a local organization where you can get involved by helping the community, while building your skillset and creating connections.
Personally, this is something I was lacking in my career journey until my mentor suggested I get more involved with SHRM Jacksonville. I’ve been on the Board of Directors for the last four years now and hope to be involved for many more to come. It has been a valuable experience that connected me with so many local individuals and organizations, while expanding my skillset. There are positions that vary in their time commitment, don’t rule this out entirely as a possibility if you’ve already got a full plate. A little bit goes a long way with non-profit organizations, even if one hour per week is all you can commit consistently.
Mentorship for Guidance and Support
Make the time to offer guidance and support to those around you, you always have a minute. Seek that same guidance from your mentors. If you’re interested in exploring a mentor relationship but don’t know where to start, you’re not alone; it certainly can feel intimidating. I’d say the first step is being very clear with yourself about exactly what you are seeking from this relationship, use that to define goals and self-awareness around your strengths and weaknesses. Understand where you excel and where you need guidance, so you can find someone whose expertise completes your growth areas. Then start the hunt- within your network, industry events/conferences/workshops, online platforms, etc.
Once you identify someone of interest, approach with respect and clear intent; be respectful of their time and show the value you can contribute to the relationship as well (refer back to your skill set inventory!). It will likely take a few attempts with different people to find the right fit so don’t get discouraged. If they aren’t available, show your appreciation anyway and stay connected; you never know when they may come back around.
Within that mentor relationship, setting clear expectations is important; share those goals you defined earlier and set a regular cadence of how often you’re meeting. And then respect those deadlines and appointments! Demonstrating your commitment and reliability is key. Be open to their feedback; accept any constructive criticism and act on it, it will be another way to show your commitment to growth.
Just remember that mentorship relationships develop organically over time. Start slow, reflect on the key takeaways each time, and learn what’s working for you so you can share or adjust with future mentors and mentees.
As we draw the curtains on National Career Development Month, I hope these tips have added wind to your professional sails. Whether you’re part of the Trailer Bridge family or sailing solo, the wisdom of flexibility, balance, and strategic career navigation is universal. And don’t let the ship set sail without acknowledging the essence of personal branding. We live in a world where connections matter. Craft it thoughtfully, share your unique narrative, and let it resonate in the vast professional ocean.
As you journey through your career, remember that each wave is an opportunity, and each change a chance to grow. So, here’s to sailing forth with purpose, embracing change, and leaving your mark on the career horizon. Bon voyage, career pioneers!
Is Trailer Bridge the next destination in your professional voyage? Take a look at our career page for all current opportunities!