How To Start Your Career At Management Level
When your driving career goal is to reach the c-suite of an organisation, you probably do not want to spend much time at the lowest levels of the workforce.
Admittedly, there are benefits to starting your career as a regular employee. You come to understand the needs and perspectives of much of the workforce, so when you do reach positions of leadership, you are better prepared to provide the resources your team needs. However, managers make more money and enjoy undeniably enviable perks, like greater autonomy, more authority and better access to executive positions.
Is it possible to skip entry-level positions and begin your career as a manager? Yes, but it takes plenty of preparation before you step foot on your career path.
Get The Right Education
Organisations like their business leaders to have certain skills and knowledge that allow them to find success in management positions. Employees in entry-level positions reliably gain such knowledge and skill as they work within an organisation, but if you are looking to skip entry-level positions, you need a way to demonstrate to employers that you have the skills and knowledge they need in their management team.
Enter education. College degrees are trustworthy credentials that organisations require for higher levels of employment. Certain college degrees function like fast passes to management positions and beyond. Thus, if you plan your education journey appropriately, you should be able to minimise the time you spend in the classroom and maximise your opportunities to skip the lowest rungs of your career ladder. To start, you need a bachelor’s in business administration, which will provide a foundation of knowledge about every aspect of business operations, from finance and accounting to marketing to organisational psychology and leadership strategies. From there, it would be wise to acquire a master’s degree in the same field. Many business schools allow you to add an accelerated MBA program to the end of your bachelor’s, so you can leave school fully equipped for your high-powered career.
Gain The Right Experience
Education is an excellent substitute for much of the knowledge and skill you would be gaining through experience — but not all of it. You do need some exposure to the real-world business environment you hope to operate in. Fortunately, you can gain practical experience without wasting years in lower-level positions in two ways:
1. Internships. Internships give untrained, inexperienced workers the opportunity to step into functioning workplaces, see how different professionals manage their tasks within an organisation, and develop their own strategies for accomplishing common responsibilities.
2. Shadowing. Shadowing is the process of following around an important professional throughout their workday. Typically, shadowing programs are exceedingly brief — perhaps lasting only a day or two — but they can provide an informative insight into what a typical day looks like for different roles within an organisation.
It is worth noting that neither an internship nor a shadowing experience are likely to pay especially well. In fact, many of the best workplace experience programs are unpaid and could come with significant expenses in terms of relocating. Still, you should be able to fit internships and shadowing opportunities into your student schedule, so you won’t need to waste time after you graduate from such low-level employment.
Make The Right Connections
In business, what you know is as important as whom you know. A well-maintained professional network will remain invaluable throughout your career, but it is especially useful for helping you get your feet off the ground. Your network contacts can clue you into available management positions that suit your interests and abilities, which could make the difference in securing a management job so early in your career.
Networking can seem difficult if you are so new to the business space, but essentially every encounter you have outside your home is an opportunity to make a professional contact. In your business courses, you should befriend your fellow students who show the most promise, and you should take the time to develop relationships with your professors, who likely have their own professional networks they can leverage in your favour. Maintaining a professional network can be demanding work, but it will certainly be fruitful as you climb your career ladder.
The sooner you recognise your desire to reach the highest levels of business operation, the sooner you can develop a plan that helps you achieve your goals. With the right planning and preparation, you can skip unnecessary steps in your career path and see your professional dreams come true.