Navigating my new professional role: accepting uncertainties to grow career confidence
ARTICLE BY NHI PHAN
My fascination with the field of social sciences has profoundly influenced my career path and has sparked a commitment to learning that I believe will be lifelong.
Back in school, as I delved into the complexities of shared heritage, near and far, I was captivated by the stories, cultures, and events shaping our community and the broader world. This fervor for understanding the human experience has seamlessly merged with my professional journey, which began when I started working at Environics Research, where I have the unique opportunity to analyze and interpret the ever-evolving behaviours, preferences, and trends of people in today’s fast-paced world. It’s a role that allows me to look deeper into the narratives that define how people see themselves and each other. I am delighted to see how this alignment between my personal interests and professional path motivates me to uncover the unique stories of individuals in the context of our dynamic and interconnected global landscape.
The Financial Services team at Environics works with a diverse range of research projects within the financial services industry, with respondents spanning from senior executives and decision-makers, to financial intermediaries to consumers and investors. From the very start, I had the chance to participate in a multitude of projects, working closely with my team and continually enhancing my skills and insights. My initial project focused on a multicultural perspective, which explored the factors that influence and shape experiences, including financial choices among different immigrant groups in Canada. This has provided me with invaluable insights and allowed me to draw upon my background and expertise. I also had the opportunity to assist my colleagues with various tasks, contributing to projects of varying sizes and complexities, thus broadening my understanding of the application of appropriate research methods to conduct effective studies.
Another aspect of my work that deeply resonates with me is the recognition that financial decisions are about far more than numbers. They are also a reflection of our values and life experiences. My role provides me with the opportunity to dive into the complex connections between human behaviour and financial choices, a topic that genuinely draws my curiosity. Comprehending these dynamics is not only professionally fulfilling but also empowers me to make informed choices in my personal financial life.
As my involvement has deepened, I have come to recognize the technical nuances inherent in the studies. As I have climbed the learning curve, each project has presented a unique opportunity for growth and posed its own set of challenges. Although there were moments of feeling overwhelmed, especially when grappling with new information and determining where to begin, I enjoyed and valued these exciting opportunities.
I came to understand that it is normal to experience the stress and uncertainty that comes with starting a new role. Therefore, rather than feeling anxious about these uncertainties, a helpful approach for me was to direct my energy towards what I could do to embrace the opportunities that came along with the process. Cultivating this mindset is a gradual journey, but even a modest advancement brings a sense of reward, affirming that I am on the path to achieving it.
I am still in the early stage of my career, and I will surely gain perspective as I move forward, but I have already learned some important lessons over the past few months:
The value of understanding the big picture.
This lesson applies to any project. Often, when encountering a new project filled with layers of information, I found it more manageable to start by understanding the context and the purpose of the study. By gathering new information and categorizing it, I found I could gain a clearer sense of direction when navigating totally new territory. Determining the first step when starting a task is essential, and I have learned that, for me, seeing the big picture is the best place to begin.
The importance of asking questions.
Starting a new role and being the newest member in the team means I have yet to gain the expertise and insights that others possess. Asking questions helped me learn valuable tips and best practices to be more effective and build confidence in performing my job. These questions can focus on project specifics or on seeking feedback. Feedback is crucial as it can enable me to acknowledge shortcomings and improve my performance. I found that the knowledge I’ve gained from asking questions and embracing constructive feedback helps me a lot with building more confidence in my ability to do the role.
As I’ve built technical skills and gained insights into the organizations and industries that are the focus of our research, what truly made this experience exceptional was the great mentorship and guidance I’ve received from my team. I have been grateful to my colleagues, who have always ensured that I’ve had the necessary support. While I’m still working on my confidence and building my skills to navigate through this process, I look forward to the exciting opportunities for learning and growth that lie ahead.
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