Contrary to popular belief, Cinco de Mayo is not a celebration of Mexican Independence. It is a day that celebrates the Mexican army’s defeat of the much larger and better-equipped French forces (an army that had never been defeated for nearly 50 years) at the Battle of Puebla in 1862.
Against tremendous odds, the regiments of Mexican soldiers made the impossible possible. Even though their victory was short lived (the French conquered the country in 1863), they made history. Turns out that a little bit of grit, chutzpah, smarts and preparation can go a long way.
Like you don’t already know, but being able to land a gig in this economy is a tremendous feat. While some news outlets devote week-long series to helping candidates land a job, some are going straight in grad school. And even though CNN has called this the worst job market in decades, whether you’re an up-and-comer about to graduate or preparing to go into your first internship, you can at least give yourself a breather and revel in the fact that you’ve secured a highly coveted spot.
However, there are, quite literally, hundreds of people that are ready to pounce on what you have. And since there is a glut of the unemployed chomping at the bit, you have got to make yourself as valuable to the team as possible. So, once that ‘breather’ is over, you’ve got to make yourself relevant in your manager’s eyes. Following are five traits that will help you accomplish just that.
- Willingness to learn – All of us have at least one class where we personally sought out different books, newer research, etc. Like this class, you have got to show your management team that you have this thirst for knowledge and are open to learning things that can make you the best professional.
- Great attitude – Ralph Waldo Emerson once wrote that “nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm.” I’m not saying that being happy-go-lucky is key here; but bringing forth some positive vibes and passion to what you’re doing will help you stand out when your supervisors give their reports to the executive board.
- Solid writing skills – Keeping yourself relevant is a big part of keeping your job, and writing well plays in that. We’re not talking about being able to pontificate on this or that; but the simple (and important) ability of being able to convey a message or describe a product succinctly will do you well.
- Quick study – There are so many things that change in most industries on a weekly basis. New ideas are developed, attitudes in the market are shifting, innovate products are being made to help you be smarter, etc. You’ve got be nimble enough to soak in what you need and put it into practice – making little mistakes and learning along the way.
- Great work ethic – Don’t make the mistake of showing up to work on time and leaving at 5pm. This is a ‘paycheck player’ and someone that is not only expendable, but forgettable. You want to show up to work early and give your team 150% of your time and energy, always asking how you can help. We’re not talking about kissing up – we’re talking about making yourself available to moving things from good to great.
Even though legions of French forces are not vying for your spot, there are swarms of people that are waiting for you to slip up just enough to get canned. So long as you keep that Battle of Puebla spirit in mind, you should be able to tap into a little bit of grit and chutzpah, every day.