A lot of blogs and books encourage Filipinos to start their own businesses. But the path to Entrepreneurship is not for everyone. There are still some benefits to becoming an employee. The truth is, majority of new graduates will be following the employment path. There is nothing wrong with that. It can be a good way to start learning about yourself–your work habits, observe supervisors and managers at work, and build your expertise and career.

Here are some books you can read that will help you ease into your new role:

Jumpstart Your Career: The Handbook to Finding Your Dream Job by Jobstreet.com.ph

Your First Job by Nelson Dy

You can also read my interview with Aleks Tan, who used to be a ‘Powerpoint Guy’ but now serves as the Chief Executive Officer of OMF Literature, arguably one of the most successful Christian businesses in the Philippines.

From Powerpoint Guy to CEO

hen I started out at OMF Lit in my early 20s, I easily became the unofficial “PowerPoint guy” who created presentations and operated the multi-media set-up for the CEO. Financial reports and strategic documents would find themselves on my desk as I worked with the CEO to design his slides. At my job level that time, I wasn’t supposed to be privy to such information. I understood this and was careful to consider myself privileged that I could learn more about the organization’s operational big picture. As “PowerPoint guy” I sat through many board meetings to set up the LCD (which entailed dismantling one of the PC stations so we could use the CPU at the board meeting; laptops were a luxury back then, and only the CEO had one.) I was a fly on the wall, a shepherd-boy David who suddenly found himself in the royal courts. Little did I know, that my training to become CEO years later had begun.

[Mighty’s notes: Don’t consider any job “too small” for you. Sometimes, small things really lead to great opportunities.]

How did you invest on your career growth?

I did not. Well, at least not consciously. When I started work, I was not aware of the concept of a career path. I was drawn to publishing work mainly because I believed in the power of words, especially words anchored in Scripture. I’ve seen how words have transformed my own life. And getting a front-seat row to see how words can also change other people’s lives was too good to pass up.

When I was starting out in publishing, I just did what I was asked to do as excellently as I could—and a little bit more. I worked hard and stayed away from fence sitters and complainers. (I called them “nega-stars”.) I did not count the hours or keep account of the extra things I did on top of my official duties. I was young, single, and hungry (literally and figuratively!) and so I devoured all the new things I encountered. During my job interview, I remember telling HR I would work for books. Thankfully, they paid me in cash.

I enjoyed what I was doing, and I learned to enjoy what I didn’t know how to do. When I was asked to do something I felt I didn’t know how to do, I… Googled. Seriously. And at the risk of dating myself, I should say that not everyone back then knew the magic of Google! I researched and learned and did the job. You can say that I invested in my career growth by giving my heart to it. I looked at what I was doing as a life vocation and not just a livelihood. Cliché as it might sound, passion does yield very good returns.

The organization also invested in my growth, for which I am exceedingly thankful. At 26, I was sent to the US for training in the sales and marketing aspects of publishing. I now see this as a turning point—by this time, I had fallen in love with Christian publishing and OMF Lit, and there was no turning back. That trip—my first overseas (and yes, I saw snow)—was to be first of many in this ongoing journey. We’re a practical company, and so everyone travels economy. But, just as I’m learning how to navigate this new life as a CEO, I’ve learned how to get a good seat on a long-haul flight, one that has more legroom and away from the noisy flight crew reheating food. I’ve also devised a strategy for dealing with jetlag. I will share that with you if you promise to buy me coffee.

On the matter of investing in career growth, I would like to point out that this is mainly the responsibility of the professional and not his or her organization. Sure, you should convince your company to send you to training events, but you should not let the lack of those opportunities hamper your growth. There are books (lots at OMF Lit!). There are online resources like TedTalks, YouTube, and websites such as this one, that offer an impressive wealth of insight and information to help yuppies better themselves. In this age of accessible information, crowd-sourcing, and free content, there is really no excuse to stay ignorant or professionally stunted.