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In a previous blog piece, “It’s Your Career, Own It”, I mentioned that you’ll feel more empowered in your career if you realize your professional value. When you truly understand which skills and qualities differentiate you from everybody else, you’ll be in a better position to tilt the table in your favor and attain the opportunities, compensation, and impact you desire. Reaching this point of self-realization is ultra satisfying, but it’s a long and arduous journey to get there.

It requires enduring those tedious and dull jobs that feel like a total waste of time. It requires dealing with unsupportive managers who seem to stunt your growth rather than encouraging it. It requires years of experimenting, doing, learning, and failing in every position you’ve held. It requires being confident enough to bet on yourself while being aware that there’s always something you could do better. More often than not, it’s going to feel like the world is acting against you, but these are the situations that will eventually help you realize your potential value. Trust the process, they say.

When I wrote “It’s Your Career, Own It” a couple of months ago, I was contemplating if I should test the waters of the job market. I’d been at Uber Eats for a year and 4 months. I was comfortable in my role, but irked at the same time because I wanted more and was unsure if I’ll get the opportunity. My friend Sudeep once told me he looked at 3 things when evaluating his happiness at a company: 1) the people he worked with 2) the responsibilities of the role 3) compensation. If he wasn’t satisfied with at least 2, it was time to consider making a move.

Eventually, I threw out the bait. From the beginning of my career, I’ve always felt like the underdog constantly proving myself. From graduating college during the Recession and paying my dues in a career path I wasn’t thrilled with, to pleading with companies to give me a chance after switching my focus to Marketing, I had to battle and earn those opportunities. Looking back, building my resume has been super difficult, but I’ve always remained confident in my abilities, while also very aware of what I seriously lacked.

I wasn’t desperate for a new job. I was more so open to hearing about opportunities that could help continue my growth. I’ve held 6 full-time gigs in 10 years, and all that experience has helped me identify those career fundamentals that I covet. After initial conversations, I realized what aspects of my resume were of value and once that lightbulb clicked on, I was in the driver’s seat (if you need any help assessing your career, just do a couple job interviews and you’ll realize how much, or how little, you’ve done). Understanding the value I could contribute, my resume was getting bites and the recruiting process went smoother than ever. The convos transitioned from me trying to prove myself to me advising how companies how they should be operating. I went from nagging recruiters to turning down offers, and it was humbling gratifying.

I uninvitingly provide my friends with career advice all the time and the most important thing I tell them is that the only entity that should be dictating your professional narrative is yourself. It’s on us to figure out what we want to commit 90,000 hours of our lifetime to, nobody else. You should have confidence, awareness, and most importantly, be patient because just like with anything of value, your career should enhance over time if you put in the work. If things don’t immediately go your way, rather wasting energy complaining about it, figure out ways to improve yourself. The key is to constantly stay curious and learn as much as possible until you pinpoint what to drill down and master. Make the right investments and you’ll surely realize your true value. It’s going to feel good when you do.

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Rex Pham

Originally from the Bay Area, who then moved to Los Angeles, then out to New York City. NYU Stern MBA c/o 2014. Inspired by the grind of NYC to create something that has value. Lover of all things digital, culture, and brand strategy.

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