Question Everything! How to Thrive as A Junior

Question Everything! How to Thrive as A Junior

Icon Agency and Youngbloods have partnered in a content series looking to take a closer look at the challenges, learnings and insights experienced when entering the Marketing and Communications industry. Here, Icon’s Digital Project Manager, Josh Cracknell, who started as a UX design intern before transitioning into project management, explains why questions are some of the greatest tools for young professionals.

I haven’t always found it natural to talk to people, especially strangers. At my high school assembly speeches, my legs would uncontrollably shake while my voice quivered and stomach turned.

Several years and 5 figures of HECS debt later, I’m immersed in Melbourne’s dynamic agency scene, where on any given day I interact with developers, designers, content strategists, clients and the senior leadership team. 

What once left me weak at the knees, is now my job.

I won’t pretend that confidence comes in a single stroke of self-righteous brilliance for me, it’s taken countless moments where I’ve realised that discomfort is something to lean into, not shy away from. Each of these moments moves the needle slightly further. 

So here’s how to turn early roadblocks into stepping stones for not just your career, but for a lifetime of learning.

Get into the habit of asking questions

It can be frustrating, humiliating and outright frightening to realise you have absolutely no idea what’s going on. It might not seem like at the time, but these moments are exactly what you need to start accelerating your growth in this fast-paced industry. 

Once you’ve come to terms with the fact that there’s a sea of information, knowledge and experience that you lack, it’s time to start exploring it. 

One of the things that benefited me most when I was an intern at Icon was making an effort to strike up conversations with anyone and everyone around the office. Over the course of a couple of months, I got to know developers, designers, project managers and the sales team, all of whom had their brains relentlessly picked by me, as I learned what they did and how they did it. 

Taking a genuine interest in what someone does, how they do it and why they like doing it is mutually beneficial, not a nuisance. You get the benefit of understanding what your team does and how they do it, and the other person gets to know you, your interests and your skills. Then, when the time comes to collaborate with those colleagues, you already have an established rapport with them.

This might seem like an overly simple exercise, but I can say without a doubt that this has been the most rewarding for me, both personally and professionally.

The more that you can show that when you ask a question, you internalise and learn from answers, the easier you will find it to expand your network and breadth of knowledge. 

Succeeding as a Junior: The Holy Trinity

Opportunity

As much as possible, put your hand up for opportunities, especially when they involve a chance to up-skill into a new area. This article started as a conversation with a colleague visiting from Sydney, and serendipitously turned into the opportunity to share my experiences. The more weird, uncomfortable and outright terrifying things you put your hand up for, the better you’ll be for it.

Positivity

Let’s face it, juniors get some boring tasks. It wasn’t that long ago that I was migrating hundreds of pages of web content, full-time. It may not have been what I dreamt of, but you would have had a hard time finding me in anything but an upbeat and positive mood. The work doesn’t have to be the reason that you’re thinking positive, in fact, it’s completely fine to find things about as appealing as pushing water uphill with a rake. 

The key questions to ask yourself are: What skill am I learning that will benefit me in the future? How can I extend this learning experience?  And what am I applying now that I have previously learned? If you follow this process of continual improvement and reflection, you’ll realise that within these tasks is a learning opportunity which helps you understand the bigger picture.

Humility

People expect you to fail. No one expects a Christmas miracle from someone that has been brought into the company as a junior, and it’s best to focus on the abundance of learning opportunities at your disposal. You become more valuable and experienced by growing, and you grow by learning from your mistakes and shortcomings.  So get hungry for answers.

Remember that things take time and you still need to enjoy the journey that life will take you on as you continually develop and grow. There’s no arbitrary line in the sand that will make things so different from now, so just enjoy the ride!

Josh is a Digital Project Manager at Icon Agency. For more information and available roles at Icon, head to our People and Culture page.




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