As I’m getting close to my 20th anniversary in this industry I wanted to start writing a series of articles based on my experience, that will, hopefully, help the "next generation" (Now I'm starting to feel as old as Picard). This first very short article is about some “unwritten rules” that are hard to know when you first start in this industry, unless someone tells you about them. As a disclaimer, these are just my personal opinions, based on my personal experience.
1) Hard work is appreciated, but don’t assume everyone is aware of your efforts
One of the mistakes we often make is to assume that hard work is automatically noticed by all the leads/managers/supervisors involved with the project. Oftentimes they are very busy and only see the results, but are not always aware of all the effort that went into achieving that result. So if you know you worked hard, innovated a new technique or went above and beyond to deliver on time, then don’t be afraid to point it out to your managers at the end of the project!
2) Hard work is appreciated, but soft skills matter too!
Being a great artist is fantastic, but oftentimes your managers will also look at how you interact with other people, how much of a team player you are and how much you like to help and mentor your co-workers.
Even if you are not seeking promotions, you should still be nice to your coworkers and try to help as much as you can. Positivity will make a better work environment for everyone!
3) Hard work is appreciated, but don’t neglect your health, life and family.
I know it is easier said than done, but trust me - no matter how young you are, your body still has limits. It may seem ok for you to push your limits now, but everything has a cost down the road. If you don’t feel well, take a day off. If you have to work long hours, make sure you set aside some time that you can spend with your family. If your company doesn’t understand you are a human being and not a robot, then it’s time to find another one!
4) It’s impossible to avoid office politics
Office politics are not something you can sit out, regardless of your level. Even though most people dislike them (including myself), the reality is they are a part of every organization. There will come a time when you will realize that focusing only on your performance is very unlikely to get you the success you’re aiming for - be it a bonus, promotion, or recognition from your managers. However, investing time in your networks and building the connections that can speak for you and your work will.
5) Don’t be afraid to ask for a raise
Every regular employee expects some sort of a raise from time to time. But especially if you worked hard and contributed a lot, don’t be afraid to ask for a yearly raise. Remember that any year you don’t get a raise, it’s a year your salary goes down! (due to inflation)