These days, you can’t open a magazine or browse the web without seeing a litany of articles and headlines proclaiming the vices of the millennial generation. They’re too self-important. They’re lazy. They’re glued to their screens. They’re not responsible. Today’s young people and their habits are a frequent topic of discussion, debate, and often disappointment amongst those older and wiser.
But… I have a confession to make. I am one of these notorious millennials with big dreams and wifi-enabled devices seemingly fused to my hands.
As millennials, we face a unique set of challenges in the workplace – both in terms of our own shortcomings and other’s preconceived judgments. However, this should never be an excuse to step down, settle, or coast by in your career.
I am grateful to be a part of a team that trusts me and empowers me to do significant, amazing work, and, thanks to them, I have picked up some wisdom on how to succeed early on in your career as a millennial.
1. Reevaluate your perspective
- Sure, you feel like you know a lot. You have a degree or two under your belt, maybe an impressive job or internship to boot. But, guess what? You really don’t know that much. You’re young and, for the most part, inexperienced. Consider it an honor to work with people willing to share their perspective and experience with you. Learn from them. Allow yourself to see projects and goals from their perspective and you will grow tremendously.
2. Speak up and take ownership
- Be bold. You may feel like the new kid on the block, but you probably have fresh ideas and angles that could greatly benefit your team. Don’t just clock in and clock out. Invest in your workplace by bringing your all and making your voice known. Take pride in your work.
3. Ask Questions
- Chances are, you are going to run across a lot of things that are unfamiliar to you. Questions don’t necessarily reveal weakness or incompetence. Often, they reveal your commitment to quality work and doing the job right.
4. Challenge yourself
- Try to seek out new opportunities within your workplace. Volunteer for the project that scares you. Your first few jobs are the best opportunities to to grow and set yourself above your peers. Each month, find a new ambition within your company.. .maybe it’s a task you want to accomplish, a coworker you want to work with, or an initiative you want to spearhead. Ambition shouldn’t stop when you land the job.
In all, remain humble and know that you have much to learn but don’t discredit yourself or your potential. Stretch yourself, work hard, and don’t take yourself too seriously.
For parents, educators, and managers looking to equip young people to successfully tackle their first jobs, check out Dr. Joanie Connell’s excellent, timely new book Flying without a Helicopter: How to Prepare Young People for Work and Life.