We all have memories of our first job and it will always be a special one because it determines one’s career trajectory. Whether it’s an internship, an internship, or full-time employment, it gives you an experience about professional life, how you deal with clients, people, you become a stronger person, it also teaches you new things and new ways of doing them. It is best to have some guidance before we start our career journey from a great leader.
With this thought, here is the First Job experience of Shweta Pandey, Vice President & General Counsel, Mercedes-Benz Research & Development India Private Limited.
What is the biggest lesson that you learnt in your first job?
I started my career at a law firm. Like most rookie lawyers straight out of law school, I was eager to make an early mark. One of the first and the greatest lessons that I learnt at the onset was that every individual, irrespective of their professional credentials or their years of experience, can make mistakes. However, it is not our mistakes that define us. Instead, it is how we choose to deal with them, the way we work towards rectifying them and the lessons that we carry forward, ultimately define us.
Therefore, my recommendation to all young professionals would be to always own up to your mistakes and work diligently towards rectifying them. Some of the best professional learning comes from the mistakes that we make, provided we are willing to learn from them!
What would have happened had the pandemic struck while you were starting your career? How would you have tackled things in your stride?
I must admit that the pandemic has made it so much more challenging for young professionals to get assimilated into their workplaces. However, I would have relied on the most tested tool in any professional’s toolkit – and that is to seek help. It is extremely important to have a core group of people one can always reach out to for personal and professional advice. I find myself reaching out to my colleagues, or my seniors whenever I am in doubt. It is something that always seems to work wonders, no matter how hard the times might be.
One interview tip that you find extremely useful and relevant over the years.
One interview tip that I have always found extremely useful and one that never loses relevance is to be thorough with your research on the organisation you are hoping to join. It is crucial to read up on the organisation’s history, its cultural values, and its vision ahead. This not only prepares one about the organisation but also empowers us with the knowledge to steer the conversation into a comfortable domain, making us confident – a clear indicator of a potentially sound hire.
What are the 3 main soft skills that a fresher must possess to ace jobs?
The three most important soft skills would be courage, gratitude, and humility. Without these three attributes it will be difficult for any fresher to unlock the enormous opportunities for learning and successful career progression.
How has the pandemic shaped/changed the work culture?
While on the one hand, the pandemic certainly has taken away the fun of the physical workplace, on the other, it has brought us all much closer. There is greater empathy and understanding for one another. We are now beginning to see other human beings around us beyond their professional credentials or their core areas of expertise. We are more mindful of their personal challenges, which certainly do have a bearing upon an individual’s work self. In the times to come, one can hope to see more resilient and empathetic professionals emerge out of the current crisis.
Your perspective on the changing work culture over the past decade.
The world seems like a wholly different place in just the last decade. From the way talent is viewed to how we take care of our employees, to the increased emphasis on work-life balance. Respect for personal space and more diverse and inclusive workplaces has increased – it is an upward journey when it comes to the evolving work culture across organisations and industries.
One book that you would recommend to the freshers that can help.
I would highly recommend “Smartcuts” by Shane Snow for anyone starting out. It’s a book that pushes you to think beyond the conventional wisdom and harness the power of lateral thinking. What I personally love the most about the book is the emphasis it places upon the importance of mentorship in one’s professional journey and how sound mentorship is the key to long-term professional success.