Simon Sinek on How to Start Your Career in an Entry-Level Job

In Chapter 6 of 16 of his 2009 Capture Your Flag interview with host Erik Michielsen, "Start With Why" author Simon Sinek shares how entry-level professionals can excel in their job and make it a positive career building experience. He advises early career professionals to couple their exuberance and enthusiasm with a broader perspective, noting careers are made in 30 or 40 years and not 12 months. A patient approach to building incremental skills goes a long way toward creating long-term experience useful across a career. Simon Sinek is a trained ethnographer who applies his curiosity around why people do what they do to teach leaders and companies how to inspire people. He is the author of "Start With Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action". Sinek holds a BA degree in cultural anthropology from Brandeis University.


Erik Michielsen: I talk to a lot of recent college graduates who are putting in their dues, per se. At some point they start to get frustrated because they want to have more ownership in that organization or do their own thing.  What is your advice for folks as they are putting in their dues how to think about their future and what steps to take next?

Simon Sinek: Try to think of your life and career in broader terms.  All of us, especially when we start out, we are full of excitement, we are full of energy, we want to do good in the world, we want to prove we are smart.  We want to do it this year.  The fact of the matter is that you have a long career.  If you have 20, 30, 40 years, where do you want to be in 40 years and what do you want to achieve this year or in next 3 to 5 years to get there.  To play it on an annual basis can be demoralizing because you think to yourself "when do I get out of this?" Laying the foundation of a house is hard work and no one is going to get to see it and it is not even beautiful.  We all know that house stands up so much stronger when you have a strong foundation.  Entry level is the building of the foundation of your house.  At some point you will say I think it is built and will say it is time to make some changes now.  I want to start moving on to the scaffolding and move on to the structure.  If you understand what an entry level job is, that helps you navigate it a lot easier.