My goddaughter recently graduated from college. The day was filled with all of the usual pomp and circumstance and a few not so dry eyes. I am so proud of her. She is focused, driven, smart, and savvy.
But when I think about her, her friends and classmates, as well as the people whom I have had the chance to mentor and manage through an internship program, graduating college can be a scary and uncertain milestone.
There are so many unknowns.
Where am I going to work?
How am I going to pay my bills?
What will my first “real” job be like?
What if I don’t do well?
How long will it take for me to get promoted and make <insert dollar amount here>?
All of those questions are valid and understandable. So, I’m not sure whether or not this may answer all of them, but here are a few thoughts and considerations as you enter the workforce.
There is a reason why we have two ears and one mouth. We all want to add value and be seen as valuable, but it takes time. You must build your professional reputation. Get really curious about the work you are tasked to do and do it well. Ask questions when you are unsure of the expectations or demands and listen. Be an intuitive and diagnostic listener and leverage your skills and talents to do quality work. When we listen attentively, we are humble and respectful. Those qualities will always serve you well in the workplace.
Build Your Brand
Only you can manage your professional reputation, and that is something you must do throughout your career. How do you want to be known? How will you earn the trust and respect of your colleague? What do you want people saying about you? You may not care about that, but you should. Your brand is what will help you get that promotion, that raise, and an increase in responsibilities. Think about what you want your brand to look like and do everything you can to make that happen.
Know Your Super Power
What is it that makes you unique? When a situation arises, and you need to dart into the phone booth or spin around to tap into your superpower, what will you be known for doing and doing really well? Find one thing you can do really well and master it. Become the “Go-To-Person” in your organization to do <insert your super power here>. When we become known for something, we can leverage that superpower. It’s what will get you noticed and help you create that next advancement opportunity.
Have a Plan.
When you are first starting out in your career, you must do everything you can to show your organization you are in it. Years ago, in the midst of the financial crisis in 2007, Suze Orman wrote The Money Book for the Young, Fabulous, and Broke. (It’s a great read!) One point that really stood out for me was when Suze says that at the start of your career, you are your most significant investment. If you want to stay at a company, get recognized, get a raise, and get promoted, you will need to invest your time in building your worth at that organization. That means coming in an hour early and staying an hour later and doing that each day. Let your work show how much this job means to you. Have a plan and know where you want to be in 2 years, 5 years, and 10 years. Develop that plan and act on it.
Know How to Give and Receive Feedback
I’m passionate about this! I do a lot of work with my clients around how to give and receive feedback. Feedback must be evidence-based and designed to either help someone maintain that behavior or change it. If your feedback isn’t grounded in evidence and done in a timely manner, it is ineffective. Learn to be a powerful feedback giver and a powerful feedback receiver. How you give and receive feedback says a lot about your character and who you are as a leader. People are watching, and they are taking notes.
Find the Opportunity & Play Full Out
Go after your dreams.
Be responsible (You will have bills to pay).
Never settle and live boldly.
When we play full out, we do the best work we can and make the most out of every situation. We can do great things when we focus our attention and develop the mindset for it. Whatever your plan is, play full out! Go after opportunities while you can that take you slightly out of your comfort zone. Create opportunities that give you the experience you may never have received if you played it safe. You’ve got one shot at this. Make it count and play full out.
Comment in the box below and let me know how you intend to “play full out”?