I recently hit the one year mark of my current job position. Having only held short internship roles, then shorter-term rotational roles, this was a big milestone for me.
This was also a good time to reflect on some of the career lessons learned from the past year. What worked? What didn’t? What did I learn?
From my personal experience, here are 8 important career tips… for Millennials, from a Millennial.
Don’t “Network” – “Connect”
For years the only term ever used when discussing meeting new business contacts was “network.” The term has ended up representing empty acquaintances with a large group of people you hardly know after quickly meeting once at a conference.
Instead of quantity, let’s start aiming for quality connections.
Twitter Isn’t a Waste of Time
I resisted Twitter for years, not at all understanding the allure of microblogging where you are, what you are eating, and what you are watching on TV. And I certainly had no desire to read the rants of various celebrities.
Until I discovered that Twitter is more than that. It is a community for like-minded people to share information, have spirited discussions, and develop those connections which I just mentioned. If you haven’t already signed up, go for it! Connect with people whose work you admire and share your own thoughts.
Follow Up/Follow Through
When you’ve been asked to do something or said that you would do something – following through on that task by actually doing it AND then follow up with that person on the status.
If you get stuck or need more information, follow up before it is too late. People appreciate when you follow up before they have to come looking for you. And always follow up by any required deadlines.
Bring Back What You Love
Is there something in your life you’ve abandoned over the course of the past year that you miss? For me, that was cooking. Nothing gourmet, but just the act of cooking in itself. Looking for new recipes, focusing on the tasks of cooking, and enjoying the results. By the time I was getting home from work and the gym, it was too late to get into detailed cooking, and I let it slip. I’ve started picking back up on it (at least on the weekends) and it feels great.
Try New Things
And find new things to love! In July of 2011 I thought wine tasted like grapes and anything beyond that made no sense (like seriously how can wine smell like vanilla with hints of blackberries?), golf was more boring than watching paint dry, and blogs where a silly waste of time (sorry!). Now, a year later, I’ve taken a wine class and fallen in love with the beauty and complexity of wine, and have continued to take more courses and read about it. I’ve taken golf lessons, am having a blast playing when I get a chance, even bought clubs and golf shoes so I look pro. And, I discovered a blog can be a worthwhile endeavor and a fun way to share your life observances and information with a like-minded audience.
Don’t Complain (at Least Not To the Wrong Person)
I found this out the hard way, and a little too late. We will all complain and vent at some point no matter how hard we try to focus on the bright sides of life. Family and close friends should be the outlets for this.
Discussing issues or problems at work, with another coworker (whether they are your peer, boss, mentor, or anyone else in the organization) they can take this the wrong way. You may see it as just venting, or trying to problem solve out loud with a listening ear. However, all they will hear is you complaining. You don’t want to be seen as a complainer.
Don’t Talk About What You Plan To Do, But What You Actually Do – Execute
There is so much talk, at the individual level and a wider organizational level, about what we “plan to do.” And everyone needs a strategy for moving forward. Yet, on a daily basis, on the individual level as a young professional – make sure you spend a good amount of time actually DOING. I have a post-it note that says “Execute” in a spot I can see it every day to remind me to get out there and get things done. Your boss doesn’t really want to hear what you are going to do; he wants to hear what you’ve done.
Being Given an Opportunity Is an Amazing Feeling. Make Sure To Say Thank You
Every once in a while, you will meet someone who gives you a chance. A chance at an exciting project, an opportunity to guest blog for a while known site, or presenting at a high level meeting. Embrace those opportunities and thank that person so they know how much that means to you. Someone had confidence in you – remember to have it in yourself.
So, over the past year, what have you learned and experienced? Where have you improved and what have you digressed on? What would you like to see your next year look like?
Take Away: December isn’t the only time to reflect back on how the past year has treated you. Look back over the course of a year, 6 months, 1 month, and even a week to see how you are progressing and where you can improve.
For this post, YouTern thanks our friends at Catch Careers!
About the Author: Christina Kach is a Senior Business Analyst on the Continuous Improvement team for a financial services company in Boston, MA. She holds a BS Degree in Industrial Engineering from Northeastern University. While at NU, Christina completed three internships in the fields consumer products, aviation, and government defense. It was during this time Christina’s interest in mentoring began.
Before starting her new position in Boston this fall, Christina spent five years at a Government Defense Company, focusing on Lean implementation and process improvement in a manufacturing environment, while also completing an Operations leadership development program. Outside of work, she is pursuing a Master’s Degree in Engineering Management also from Northeastern, continues developing her Lean and business skills, enjoys coaching students and young professionals, and is SME Lean Bronze Certified.