It’s officially the season of graduation parties and cookouts. Who doesn’t like free food? For the grad, there are a lot of unknowns in the world and it doesn’t usually hit them until all the balloons deflate and the leftover pulled pork is scraped from the bottom of the pan.
Graduating is a huge deal; it’s the first major milestone in your professional life and it’s been your focus for 15+ years. Now what? If you graduated from high school or college and are planning on joining the workforce, you have a lot to contemplate. Everyone puts so much pressure on starting a ‘career’ but the very word doesn’t have the same meaning it did ten year ago.
Personally, I went through 5 very random jobs before deciding on what my professional life was going to look like and one of them totally included working at Dunkin Donuts. Hell, I still don’t know if my current career is the one but it’s working. All I know is that I want to wake up every day and work without it feeling like work. That’s all a girl can ask for! Guess what, I figured it out and I am going to share my secret recipe for living a happy-kinda-professional-life.
Step 1: Learn to sell yourself
There is a fine line between being cocky and being confident. I am a pageant girl so I can promise you there is a difference. Learning to sell yourself to other people will get you exactly where you want to be. It starts with a resume that gets you in the door and then you hit it home with the interview. Perhaps you are in sales. Your sole job is to get people to trust you in order to survive. I hope you take the extra and actually believe in the product you are selling but the fact is, people have to like you.
Talking about you is pretty strange. I have worked with countless people on building resumes and without a doubt everyone says, “you make me sound more impressive than I am.” No, I simply took your skills and talents and surrounded them with a very strategic set of words. Getting used to talking about yourself takes time and it may require some confidence building. Figure out your fears and overcome them. It’s that simple. Once you can do that, make sure you add a dash of grace to your pitch when you are selling yourself or else you’ve crossed the line I was talking about.
Step 2: Develop your weaknesses and strengths
Just because you are finished with school doesn’t mean you need to stop learning. Even if you didn’t finish school, no one said learning required a classroom so get over it and get to it. The first step to doing this is recognizing your strengths and weaknesses. If you are already through step 1, you probably have a resume ready to rock and roll. I bet you didn’t put down any of your weaknesses on that 8×11 paper did you? “No Mekayla, I am trying to sell myself here!” That’s what you have to do next. Figure out your weaknesses and make a plan to turn them into strengths. Is it public speaking? Google some tips and use them! Perhaps you and I have something in common and we are terrible at time management. Do what I did: buy a fancy planner (and actually use it). Now that you have a plan, do the same thing for your strengths. Me? I love listening to podcasts while I do housework or drive. It’s how I learn new strategies by listening to other successful people who are doing what I want to do.
My point is, never stop growing. If you want a career where you can grow in the company, your first day on the job you should figure out what it takes to get there. Once you have it, grow those needed skills and do the work! For my business entrepreneurs, you have it harder because you want to be your own boss. You don’t have anyone tossing deadlines in your face while breathing down your back. Ether way, you have to have a plan.
Step 3: Be proactive
I’m all for cutting corners. Work smarter not harder is my methodology. That doesn’t mean you can half-ass things; it’s the opposite actually. We are Gen Y and have every freaking resource at our fingertips. If you don’t know how to do something, look it up. I bet there are 10,000 YouTube tutorials on it.
If you want to make it in this world, don’t wait for someone to tell you to do something. Take the initiative and be one step ahead of them. It blows my mind that people don’t know how to write a resume. You can literally Google “resume example” and BAM! You have a template. The takeaway: you have no excuses for slacking unless you really are okay with a mediocre life.
Step 4: Be patient
Millennials struggle with patience the most. We are the most educated generation in history but we only give our careers 6 months to be successful. Ask any of your superiors and they will tell you it took them 5+ years to get to the next level. Now, I truly believe that if you do steps 1-3 you can speed up that process but it still takes time. Rome wasn’t built in a day and neither is your career. If you really think you can climb the ladder and like it at the top, I beg you to stick with it because you are probably right. If not, then repeat Step 2 and/or find a new career.
No matter what your background looks like or what a piece of fancy diploma paper says, your future is in your hands. If you want to make a change, do it. The only person holding yourself back is you and everything else is just noise. Don’t let the world drown out your dreams because the world doesn’t know your potential. Do you?