Advice to the Upcoming Grad…

First off congrats!! Soon you’ll be crossing the stage and receiving your diploma. The crossing of the stage is also symbolic of crossing into a new stage of life called Adulthood. Adulthood can be tricky, because you probably already consider yourself an adult but you’re barely tapping into that stage of life. Starting your career, living completely on your own, being 100% responsible for yourself is what I consider adulthood. I’m going to share my experiences regarding the career aspect of adulthood.

As you begin your journey into a career, first consider your values, desires, and what makes you happy. Comparing that list to the values and culture of the company will assist you in making a decision of which company is the right one to start your career.  You want to make sure that you’re a great fit for the company and that the company is a great fit for you. If those two don’t mesh than you won’t be happy and you won’t be as productive at work. And why not work somewhere that makes you happy, after all you will spend the greater part of your day at work.

Next, once you’re in the job keep in mind that for the first year or so you’re in a fishbowl. Management is watching your every move to see how promotable you are, your peers are watching to see if you have what it takes to make it and if you have direct reports they are watching to then critique you in the break room. This is how transparency comes into play. Your actions and intentions must be transparent to gain everyone’s trust and respect. If you act “shady” or don’t play by the rules you won’t win the masses over. However, transparency is a fine line. Being too transparent can get you into trouble too.

You have to remember that even though you work with these people day in and day out they are still you’re colleagues. They may someday be your competition for that promotion you desire. Therefore telling them about the time you were in Cancun and got so wasted you passed out on the street may not be the brightest idea. What you say may one day haunt you. Or telling your boss that you think he’s an idiot or a jerk is not a smart thing to do either. All kidding aside a true example that happened to me was being too open about my frustrations with a situation at work. I thought I could trust the person I told. He was a part of senior management and was someone that would give me advice about my career. He had asked me how everything was going in my new position and I opened up to him. Needless to say he went and told the VP of my department who then came to me to ask me about it. This is not a position that you want to be in. Even if you have a mentor within the company you must be careful how you phrase things and how much you tell him/her. You don’t want them going to their buddy to tell them about your problems unless you’re ready for that confrontation.

Being transparent can help you create strong interpersonal relationships at work. If people can trust you then they will follow you. This holds especially true with your peers and direct reports. With time and experience this becomes a lot easier. So you may be asking yourself if I’m the new kid how do I get my colleagues who have been there a lot longer than I to trust and follow me? Well, first off get to know people, show them that you care about them. Ask lots of questions, don’t be too big headed and act like a know it all. Work hard and exceed at what you do. Communicate to your staff or peers as much as you can about what you’re working on or information that may help them. Communication is vital, remember you can’t treat everyone the same. Some people only respect assertive leaders others like a softer approach. When you can and deem it appropriate be transparent. Tell someone on your staff about a struggle you had in school or at work if they are struggling (only if its work appropriate and fits the situation). Speak up in meetings, have your ideas be heard. Ladies….don’t say like and sit there and twirl your hair at meetings (I did that…it doesn’t work).

Transparency plays a big role in giving and receiving feedback. The more transparent you are in these situations the better. When giving feedback be tactful and detailed. When receiving feedback listen and don’t give excuses. Learn from both situations. Learning how you can improve your approach by the way the person received the feedback will help you succeed next time. Learning how to take feedback and not cry or get upset will help you go far in your career. My developmental need for a few years was displaying self-confidence in front of senior management. I never understood this because I knew I was self-confident. It wasn’t until the VP of HR was completely transparent with me and said I know you’re self-confident but you have no presence in front of senior management. That moment a light bulb went off.  She was completely transparent about my presence within the company. She gave me examples and helped me understand what my manager had been telling me for years. I worked on my presence every day (advice: work on your developmental needs everyday and management will take note) and within less than a year of that conversation I got promoted. I was transparent with my efforts of demonstrating presence.

To conclude having a career that makes you a lot of money is great but having one you love is fulfilling and amazing! Transparency and knowing how to handle it is a huge key to success. Acting professional at work is very important. And feedback is a gift that is meant to be given and received (preferably with a smile). Adulthood is scary but it’s a lot of fun and soon enough you won’t be missing the 2 pm naps in your dorm room/apt. And if you do you can always take one in your car during lunch. Hope this shed a bit of life of what’s to come. It’s an exciting journey. Don’t forget to bloom where you’re planted you’ll enjoy it just a bit more. 😉

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1 Response to Advice to the Upcoming Grad…

  1. Verner Dsouza says:

    I could relate to a lot of things you pointed about standing out. While I was doing my internship at an ad agency, there was another intern who had the same role as me. So even though we were friendly, internally we were competing with each other to stand out. The staff sensed the heat, and so we decided work together on things and divide work evenly. My point being that sometimes in attempts of standing out, people see that you’re simply trying to beat the other person more than wanting to do it for yourself. So at times, it’s about getting noticed with great work to edge out competition.

    Nevertheless, your advice on being a great colleague and employee to the company was insightful and definitely beneficial. Thanks!

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