Being a young professional is one of the most exciting, opportunistic seasons in life. Despite an uncertain economy, we live in a time where Mark Zuckerberg and other 30-under-30s are pioneering a fast-moving entrepreneurial spirit that is driving the success of industries worldwide such as social media, energy and finance.
However, life after college can sometimes have its own set of challenges and setbacks. Here are seven tips for managing the ins and outs of being a young professional.
- Find a professional mentor. When looking for a professional mentor, it’s important to find someone who not only has experience, but also is open to discussing ideas to help you grow. Having a mentor allows you to have candid discussions about your career and next steps. Chances are they have experienced much of what you’re going through and can help you with your thought process as you grow as a professional.
- You are in charge of your career. It’s up to you to figure out what you need to succeed – not your supervisor, company, mentor or anyone else. Make sure you are constantly seeking ways to improve your professional development skill set. You can do this by having regular meetings with your supervisor to discuss necessary skills you need to improve upon as well as keeping track of your professional development through an Individual Development Plan.
- Let your work speak for itself. Henry J. Kaiser once said, “When your work speaks for itself, don’t interrupt.” It’s important to make your primary focus not about the next promotion or next big project. Instead, give your best in everything you do, whether it’s simply taking notes during a meeting or running a large campaign for a client. You might be surprised how management will notice great work, even the little things, which will eventually lead to new opportunities.
- Be a team player. Great team players look beyond their own accomplishments and focus on the success of their team. They make themselves available to pitch in and help at any point and respond positively to constructive criticism.
- Initiate projects on your own instead of waiting for work to be assigned. This is one my favorite 10 Dentsu Spartan Rules. By initiating projects, you “sharpen the tools” that allow you to think creatively as well as figure out ways to make things better for the team and your clients.
- Be different. Being different is attractive. Who you are as a person will shape how you think and solve problems as a professional. Trying to imitate others simply won’t bring additional value and creative insight to your team.
- Avoid plateauing. It’s easy to get too comfortable once you’ve reached a certain goal in your career, but it’s important to continue exercising your professional development muscles. For example, it can be valuable to join a professional organization, attend networking events and participate in community projects and organizations. These activities can help you find other ways to increase your skill set through new challenges and experiences.
What other ways you can enhance your performance as a young professional? Tell us in the comments below, or tweet your responses using the hashtag #mcgblog.