The Fortune 500 Insider Network is an online community where top executives from the Fortune 500 share ideas and offer leadership advice with Fortune’s global audience. Amanda Reierson, head of digital at Farmers Insurance, has answered the question: What’s something you wish you knew before your first day of work?
My job at Farmers is my first foray into the financial services industry. I worked at various media and tech companies in the past. However, across all companies, I’ve learned a few things that I wish I would have known at the outset of my career. I hope this advice resonates with today’s millennials who have a tremendous amount to offer, even if they’re just starting out on their career paths.
Don’t be intimidated
Starting work at a brand new company can be intimidating. There’s so much you won’t know on your first day—about the industry, the company, the people, the inner workings—but that’s okay. You may not have a depth of experience related to your new responsibilities, but you’re being hired because of your attitude and potential. Come in with an open mind and be prepared to learn.
Learn every day
Everyone, regardless of title or tenure, has the potential to learn something every single day. If you are not learning every day, you are not going to be competitive. If I’m not learning every day, I’m not satisfied. It’s okay not to know everything on your first day. Let the thought and potential to learn inspire you.
I think the learning table leans both ways. Whether you are a seasoned professional with years of experience or a new employee, there is always something you can learn. I believe that millennials, for example, can bring undeniably strong digital skills to the table, and that Farmers Insurance can learn from their knowledge of emerging technologies. Even if you don’t know it all, you can still be a teacher and add value. In a truly rewarding career, the learning and the teaching never stops.
See also: The Best Way to Stay Competitive
It’s okay to admit that you don’t know something. Establish relationships with people at your company and learn from those willing to teach you. Asking questions—about everything—shows that you’re engaged, have a hunger to learn more about the company, and are eager to make that organization better. Your curiosity is the path forward in your career.
Relationships are key
Your relationships throughout the ranks are of great importance in building a career. Throughout my career at the Los Angeles Times, DirecTV, Yahoo (YHOO), and now Farmers Insurance, I’ve always worked very closely with key partner departments such as sales and IT. Through this experience, I learned that it’s all about building relationships with people. Then you can use those relationships as a springboard to build a personal brand. What energizes me is when I’ve invested in a relationship and I can feel it “click.” When you can build trust, you’re a team—not just coworkers. In order to build the brand, you must first build a collaborative team.
Career validation, and figuring out how well you are doing, comes over the long term. In college you may have gauged your level of success with each semester’s grades. Your career will be different. You may not often hear “good job.” It’s a whole new report card system. Stay motivated and set your own benchmarks for success. Then, proactively ask for feedback. Whether that feedback is positive or negative, both can help you stay on track and build a successful career.
Put yourself in customers’ shoes
For most companies, it’s all about understanding and delivering the best quality goods or services to customers. But knowing what customers really want can be elusive. Put yourself in your customers’ shoes and embrace the user experience from their perspective. This will keep you focused on a north star, and ultimately deliver better business results.