What Millennials can do to ease their transition into the modern workforce.
I remember the phone call like it was yesterday. “Jessica, we’d like to offer you a reporting position in Colorado Springs.” It was the job I dreamed of, in the exact city I hoped to live. Score! Things were looking up for this recent college graduate. My family helped me pack up and then I hopped in my beetle bug convertible and headed west. I know, a convertible in Colorado–what was I thinking?
A couple of months into the job, I began to question it. I was not getting much feedback from my boss and I had no way to gauge how I was doing. Was I the best reporter he had ever hired? Or–my real fear–was I the worst? I needed advice and I knew just who to turn to…dad. As I reached for my phone to text him, another question emerged: am I allowed to text during work hours? I couldn’t risk it, so I snuck into the bathroom and texted dad my career altering questions. His response, well, it shocked me. “No news is good news in the working world.”
No news is good news: a generational perspective?
If you are early in your career you may be able to relate to my story. We (the Millennial generation) grew up hearing we could do it all and have it all; “the sky is the limit!” We were graded with purple pens because red pens might hurt our feelings. We were bombarded with positive feedback, protected by our parents and raised with privileges rivaled by no other generation. So, when we enter a workplace that doesn’t offer that same level of support and feedback, it can feel a bit disillusioning.
Here are some ideas to help you thrive during your transition into the working world.
- Find the right career fit. Your real job is like an internship… that keeps going, and going and going. So, choose your career wisely. What are your passions? What skills and abilities do you have? Make a list of the things you love, and gather feedback from those who know you best.
- Find the right company fit. If you choose to work for an organization, make sure you align with its mission, vision, and culture.
- Understand what’s expected of you. What are your work hours? What is the dress code? Does the company have a social media policy? If expectations are not covered in your onboarding process, then make sure to take the initiative and find out.
- Be open for coaching and development. There’s so much to learn throughout our careers, especially at the start. Allow others to provide feedback that enables you to grow. Tools like Gallup’s Strengths Finder and personality tests like DISC can also help you discover and maximize your strengths and develop the areas that need refining.
- Earn respect. It takes time to build rapport. Show your leaders and colleagues that you are willing to work hard and be a team player.
- Find a mentor. Who is someone you admire? What could you learn from their knowledge and wisdom? Having a mentor, someone who is willing to invest in your life, can make all the difference in your career transition. And who knows…maybe you can reverse mentor them, too.
I believe our generation’s creativity, passion and optimism will help improve our existing organizations. Let’s keep working to become a generation worthy of receiving the leadership reins!
Dream job crisis, averted (at least this time)
Oh… and the ending to my story? I approached my boss and asked if he could share some feedback on my progress. It turns out he was happy I asked. He saw potential in me, but my voiceovers needed refining before I could go on air. That was the awareness and clarity I needed to improve. My boss and I jointly created a development plan, including time with a voice coach and quarterly check-in meetings. Within two months of practice I was on the airwaves reporting the news.
How was your transition into the working world? Any tips you can provide our rising generation of leaders? How can different generations work together to improve our existing organizations?
Jessica Stollings is the founder of reGenerations. Often called a “generational translator,” her passion (besides coffee) is making sure there is clear understanding and communication between the newest batch of college graduates and the generation of parents and grandparents already in the office. Management teams, pastors, policy groups, educators and others have built solutions around her ideas. In addition to generational speaking and consulting, Jessica serves as the Director of Talent Development for an energy company and lives in Tennessee.