My dad is super sensible and logical, which is handy, because the rest of us are decidedly not. We've had so many professional woes, and he just doesn't get it. Does. Not. Get. It. Dude wakes up every day at, like, 3am to work 12 hours at a nuclear plant. Every day. It's ridiculous! But here's some of his professional advice that's stuck with me, because damnit...that guy is too sensible for his own good:
1. Never ever think that you are irreplaceable.
Because you are. You totally are. When you think you're not, you get too cocky. Think you can do cuh-razy things! But you're wrong. No matter what you do, there's someone else who can do that too. And is probably willing to do it for less than what you're getting. (Which is not to say you should totally eat sh*t all the time and work for less than you're worth...it's more of a humility/awareness thing to keep in mind.)
2. Do whatever gives you the most options.
For some people, this is getting a college degree. For others, aligning oneself with powerful business allies. Or getting experience that lets you roll that in to your next position and be all sorts of important. Don't do things that limit you.
3. Don't imagine that you owe your workplace anything.
Sort of in line with #1, you can be replaced. If another, better opportunity comes along (bam #2!) don't feel guilty about leaving anyone in a lurch. Follow politeness protocol, give notice, work to make sure you're not burning bridges...but don't limit yourself because you feel beholden to your workplace somehow. If the situations were reversed, they wouldn't need 2 seconds to think before making the good-for-the-business-but-not-for-you decision.
4. Always have an eye out for other opportunities.
You never know. He says this a lot, but he's also had 3 jobs in my life, and one of those was the Navy. So apparently he's not taking himself seriously on #4. But even if you're not in the market for another job, it's good to know what else is out there and what other people are earning for doing the same work you do.
5. If you want a promotion, do your boss' job.
Get your work done on time and done well (obviously), and then start helping your boss. Start helping your boss so much that it's clear that maybe YOU should be the boss. It's easier to prove you can do a job after you've already done the tasks required of the job. Seems obvious, but I think people (coughwomenmostlycough) are hesitant to seem like they're stepping on toes or seeming overly boastful of their abilities.
Ta da! Thanks, Dad. Keep on keepin' on. I'll try not to stumble into your house with my pukey husband at 1am when you have to work that day. Again. Sorry about that.