Being a young professional is rough. No matter what your background is, being a young professional means there is a lot you can do to get to the top and there is plenty of room for improvement. Here are a couple of tips that have helped me, and I think can help you, get to the next step in your association career.
Set your goals
Visualize your ideal position and think about how you can get there. Look up people who have a similar position that you want on LinkedIn and look at their background. Plan your career based on your research and goals. Break down your goals into smaller yearly, quarterly, monthly, and even weekly goals. Remember to be ambitious, but realistic. You will not have the same responsibilities a top-level manager has since you just got started. Dare to ask for guidance; which brings me to my next point.
Find a mentor
I found my mentor when I was in college. She has been one of the most influential and helpful people in my life. A mentor has connections to people outside of your social circle and can help you advance in your profession. He, or she, can help with specific challenges such as choosing a new career path or focusing on specific skills you will need to move forward.
Focus on the big picture
If you are a young professional – probably someone who just got out of college – accept that you will have to work on small tasks now and then. Don’t let menial tasks bring you down and focus on the big picture. Remember when you were in college and had to study to pass that class and learn things you thought you would never use? Well, the first couple years of your career will likely involve small tasks that will make you feel like that. Remember you had to pass that class to graduate and move on to the next part of the journey. The same principle applies to entry-level jobs. Be open and willing to take on some extra responsibilities at work. This is the time to be selfish and focus on your personal goals. Get to work, do your best, focus on the big picture, and just keep swimming.
Ask for feedback
Always ask what you can do better. Learn to grow and schedule a meeting with your manager to set expectations. Not all feedback will be positive. In fact, you might learn a thing or two about your performance that you might not be pleased with. No one likes to have their work criticized, but knowing what others think about your work can help you see everything from a different perspective. Try to step out of your shoes and view all feedback objectively. Seek feedback not only from your managers, but also from your peers. Learn how you can work better in team and assess your strengths and weaknesses.
Keep learning and get involved
Focus on excelling in the skills you are naturally good at. Listen to podcasts and read books that can help you grow in your career. Since I work in marketing, I listen to podcasts such as Marketing Over Coffee. Also, subscribe to eNewsletters and stay up to date with news about your industry as much and as often as you can. A key thought I try to live by is never assuming I know everything about anything. That allows me to look over past and new techniques with an objective eye.
Join associations to advance in your career. No matter what field you are in, you can learn so much about your career and where your field is heading by joining an association. Associations provide learning and networking opportunities you do not want to miss. If you have the time and can take on more responsibilities, join a special committee and get more involved in your association. Build your network at happy hours. Who knows, you might find a mentor next time you go to an association meeting!
Associations offer reputable certifications. Spend some time to get certified and keep on learning. Your future you will thank you for the hard work you put in today.
The real failure is never trying
I was born and raised in a foreign country, speaking a different language, and raised in a different culture. I left everything I had ever known when I moved to the U.S. And here we are (we??). I completed my bachelor’s degree from a top public university, and I am years into a career I love. Every fall taught me something new. So, whenever you are doubting yourself, sit down for a minute and reassess the situation. Sincerely ask yourself; what do you have to lose by trying? Time? Effort? Maybe you will fail? But, ask yourself; what do you have to gain by trying? Is this an exciting opportunity to grow? Who knows what will come out of this? When you wake up in the morning, remind yourself how amazing and unique you are, with all of your flaws and strengths, and remember how worth it is to keep on going. You got this.