It has only been about three and a half months since I joined Capgemini, ten weeks of which were spent participating in the global on-boarding process. At this point in my career, I still battle with confusion and ambiguity but have become more comfortable and knowledgeable on a daily basis. As the fifth week of my first project experience wraps up, I am realizing that, while I may still be “learning the ropes”, I have learned some valuable lessons that I wish had been clearer to me from day one. Since time travel is still a few years away and I cannot share these lessons with my previous self, I have chosen to record this advice here in hopes that one day a new campus hire can take advantage of some simple tips that can be useful during training and rolling onto their first project.
Dear TJ (or curious new hire),
Soon you will be arriving in Atlanta for your “Introduction to Capgemini” and “Collaborating with Clients” training sessions. You probably have a general idea, by now, of what it means to “be a consultant”. Perhaps you have a visual archetype in your head (some combination of Hollywood movie characters and older members of your budding professional network). Before you start molding yourself into a “House of Lies” extra, remember that no two consultants are the same (we are human). Of course you need to have some common traits in order, such as good communication skills, a strong work ethic, adaptability, and the abilities to be presentable and professional, but you are still you. The person who got you through college and onto this career path is the person you need to be as you continue to grow at Capgemini. It is very easy to want to maintain the same attitude and behaviors both in and out of work settings, but that idea is not going to help you get comfortable with your colleagues or career. Be kind and polite whenever you interact with anyone (in and out of work), but do not be afraid to let your personality be recognized whenever you have interactions. You will find yourself in unique settings very shortly where you will need to ramp-up or tone down some of the aforementioned traits, but always be yourself and let those traits be peripheral to whom you really are as a person, teammate, and employee. (How you act when presenting to a room full of constructively critical vice presidents and principals should differ from how you carry yourself at a happy hour in India, but the underlying personality should be the same throughout.)
As you run through your first presentations during training, be prepared and be confident. You are not the best presenter in the room, nor are you the worst public speaker in the history of oral communication. You are new and talented, otherwise you would not be here. However, you will be critiqued constantly and so will the other new hires. Do not be ashamed (your audience is in the same boat as you); just keep practicing and getting better. By the time you finish training, you will be amazed at how much you have improved.
When you get to India, make friends! Not just with your fellow campus hires but also with the other members of Capgemini’s international community. You never know when a contact out of the Birmingham, UK office may come in handy (whether on a project or vacation). Your Indian colleagues are brilliant people and want to get to know you and help you. Feel free to ask them questions about each other’s cultures, certification exam tips, hobbies, experiences, and advice on deliverables when you join a project team. These distant resources will be working with you throughout you career. Establishing a genuine relationship now will make for a mutually beneficial friendship in the long-run.
Most importantly, get ready to be confused and deal with it. How you handle confusion and ambiguity will play a huge part in how successful the beginning of your career will be. You, presumably, have two eyes and two ears, but only one mouth…use one much less than the others. Listen carefully, take good notes, research abstract concepts and simple questions you may have. If after all that, you are still confused then definitely ask questions. Questioning everything out of the gate will impede everyone’s learning process; however, not inquiring is not going to help either. Even senior managers, Principals, VP’s, and executives learn something new every day.
Finally, be respectful of the investment being made in your development. Capgemini allocates a ton of resources, not only financial, to get you off on the right foot (unlike some competitors). There will be times of immense fun, stress, work, and discovery. Respect the company, the mission of global on-boarding, and each other as you move forward.