By: Lauren Perrodin

Brenda Kooiman, Microsoft Office Master Instructor at UCR University Extension, was the first person at her company to explore the uses and efficiencies of a computer.

UCR University Extension instructor Brenda Kooiman “I thought we could really benefit from a computer. But my boss was scared of computers. So I bought one,” Brenda recalls. “I actually increased my productivity by 30% in eight months, and the company that I bought the computer from actually recruited me to come to work for them to do computer system sales.”

Since then, she bought out the company that hired her after only two years, ran it for 17 years and somewhere along the way, began teaching computer literacy at UCR University Extension.

Pack your bags, put on a good pair of shoes and let’s explore the steps you’ll need to take toward career progression.

Getting Your Steps In

Soft skills can position you as someone trustworthy. Here are a few points to work on:

Take in the Sights

Communication comes in threes: listening, asking and observing.

The keys to success are all around you as long as you open yourself up to listening for them. Look for pain points in your company and ask questions about why that might be happening. Observe where bottlenecks may appear throughout the workday and work toward correcting them. All the while, be open and honest about the parts of the job you may struggle with and ask for help along the way.

Adjust Your Pack

You may not come into a job knowing everything, but you should carve out time to improve. For Brenda, she knew computers were going to change the world.

“I started on my own time. I started to [learn as much as I could and then] go out and try to help [my coworkers] after work on the weekends,” says Brenda.

Find time after work and on the weekends to hone in your craft, improve and then surpass the level you’re at now to get ahead.

Climbing That Hill

It’s rare that someone wants to stay in the same position for the rest of their lives. Here’s how you can make it up the hill toward the promotion you’ve been looking for:

Stick to Your Map

Getting a promotion isn’t easy for a reason. The people in your company want to know that you’re both prepared for the next step and that you’re dedicated to the company. Remind yourself every day that this is something worth working toward.

Wear the Right Gear

Cut out all of the things that may distract you from your end goal. That means surrounding yourself with career-driven people and even ensuring you have a tight schedule during the week that sets you up for a productive next day.

Be Open to a Change in the Weather

Your career may take a turn that you weren’t expecting, but the important part is to embrace it. Maybe you didn’t get the promotion you wanted, but you did notice an opportunity to do more for your company. Take this open door and run with it; you may be surprised by what’s on the other side.

Forging a New Path

Sometimes you come to find the path you’re on isn’t the one you thought it’d be. Turning around and finding the right one for you is okay. Brenda offers this advice to anyone starting a new career:

“Find several companies that you want to work for, and find out who the person is in each company that you would like to be in 10 years. Hopefully, you get four or five people that will allow you to talk with them. Then you pick their brains. Once you've done that, you're going to be in much better shape to know how to move forward.”

No matter which way you decide to take your life, UCR University Extension is here to guide you. Taking a course or program can help ensure you progress toward your career goals - in various fields! Our students complete courses or programs to help upskill in their existing careers or shift to a new one. Take a look at our classes for inspiration to take your life in a new direction.