Defining yourself and consequently defining yourself through your career is something that every 20-something college grad out there is struggling with. If you are one of the lucky ones who have known what you wanted to do since the age of 5, then kudos to you. But the rest of us have changed our minds at least 20 times. I wanted to be a gymnast when I was little then I graduated to fashion designer (which I still have not given up hope on). Then in high school I wanted to be a politician which lasted me through college until I got an internship in Washington D.C. and quickly discovered that becoming a politician was not going to help me change the world. I then settled on environmental consultant and realized that I shouldn’t stop there. I am now aiming on becoming CEO of my own company. But that is a story for a different time.
So here are some tips from one aspiring CEO to another.
1. Read “Women, Work & the Art of Savoir Faire” it will change your life. She is an awesome woman who seems to be able to balance everything in her life effortlessly. She single-handedly turned an entire company around while looking great and gaining respect. She is what I am to be one day.
2. Try not to act your age- now please do not show up to work drunk laughing about the “hilarious” things you did last night at Taco Tuesday. Nor should you discuss “how fat Lindsey got in college” because you saw her new profile pic on Facebook. Now let’s get real I have done both of these things BUT NEVER AT WORK. My coworkers have actually asked me what the point of Facebook is because they can’t possibly understand why you would want random people knowing where you are. (I didn’t have it in me to try to explain the beauty of privacy settings.)
3. Act your age- trying to act older than you are will get you nowhere at work. I tried that and all that it did was close people off from what I, as a 22-year-old, have to offer. Sure I don’t have years of experience but I do have a fresh outlook and I do have endless motivation. I got hired for a reason and what I can bring now will be different from what I will be able to bring years down the road. Lesson learned, wear your age proudly because life will pass you by really fast.
4. be okay with fetching coffee- No one gets their dream job right out of college. I have an amazing job but my business card doesn’t read CEO and until it does I will not be at my dream job. We all start out at the bottom fetching coffee, answering phones and in my case keeping all of the partners of my firm organized (you would think by the age of 55 one would have learned some organization skills…. men…) So we just have to suck it up and do it because beyond the horizon our dream job is waiting. No task is below you. (except cleaning the bathroom, please don’t do that)
5. Be a sponge- one of the reasons I was so eager to take my job was that I would personally be working with the partners of the company who have been in their respective industries for 30+ years. More than the money, I wanted to learn. I have only been at my job a short time but I have already absorbed so much information. We are the next generation and we need to learn all of the skills that the old folks have to offer. Listen, listen, and listen some more.
6. Set goals for yourself- the second you stop dreaming is the second you stop believing in yourself. Always set goals bigger than you think possible.
7. Step outside the box- the only way you can grow as a person is to take risks. Do things that you never thought that you would do; move to a new city, try a new hobby, run a marathon, write a blog…. The best experiences of my life happened because I dared to try something new. I left for boarding school when I was 15, I backpacked around Europe at the age of 17, I moved to San Diego for college, I joined a sorority, I studied abroad at Oxford, I took a semester long internship in Washington D.C., I moved to Europe for 4 months after I graduated. I’ve had an amazing life and I am only 22 because I decided step outside of my comfort zone. Imagine what the future holds…
8. Don’t be afraid to speak up- Now I should be one to talk (no pun intended). Only lately have I really become comfortable enough to where networking, interviews, and public speaking don’t make me sweat uncontrollably. But realize that you have great things to say (and occasionally some not so great things) but do not be afraid to share them. Especially at work, you could have the next great idea that makes your company millions.