As a young professional, it can be easy to feel downcast by a company’s hierarchical structure, but it’s all about perspective. One major thing young professionals must work on is how they see themselves in the workplace. First, they must see themselves as a leader before their more experienced, seasoned colleagues will. Self-perception is a powerful tool.
These tips will help walk you through ways to change your perspective so you can be seen as a leader and not just a fresh-faced millennial. Millennials, especially, must be mindful of their leadership as to not step on anyone’s toes and maintain respect for their upper-level colleagues and employer.
Do your homework
Preparation is essential in achieving recognition as a leader. Volunteer where you can and don’t limit yourself to office hours to work on projects. Take on independent passion projects so you can continue to grow by experience and learn skills that benefit you in and outside of the office. Jessica Casperson, director of marketing and investor relations for New North, Inc. (pictured at right), says those still in college will benefit from getting involved in student organizations and internships.
As a young professional, Casperson works to foster talent, development, regional brand development and business development, using the collective economic power of the 18 counties within the New North region.
“The lessons you learn and experiences you’ll gain will be most valuable when searching for your first job,” Casperson says. “For those who are starting their career, find a work best friend. I realize this sounds silly, but it is important to have a go-to person that you can lean on to talk over how you should approach things in the workplace.”
Practice emotional intelligence
Make a point to evaluate the culture of your office. Do not be negligent to the procedures managers use to introduce new employees to the office environment. It’s important you understand the work style of people who are already seen as leaders to adapt your own workable leadership style. Absorb all the lessons you can when it comes to company culture. It will benefit your emotional intelligence in the workforce.
“How you conduct yourself with others will set you apart,” Casperson says.
Embrace learning opportunities
As someone who is fresh out of college, you are likely to enter the workforce with skills your colleagues may not have. At the same time, they will also have fresh insight to offer you. Value their work history and experiences as opportunities to learn and understand how different methods of working can produce the same results as your own style. There are many ways to do things at work, you’ll soon realize. Appreciate the opportunity to fill knowledge gaps between you, and always be grateful for personal growth.
Exert your knowledge where possible in meetings, one-on-ones, group emails or other company communications. Do so gracefully and elegantly as to maintain your aura of respect for higher-ups within your company. Do not worry about stepping on other people’s toes. Be mindful of your potential and how you can approach work situations in respectful ways. Analyze the reality of situations to produce healthier results all around. Analyze how you can help make problem areas of your company better in the most effective ways you can. Be open to making mistakes. You will make them. It is part of the learning process and being human. Do not fear offering your opinion.
As a young professional, it may be easy to become distracted by social media, personal relationships, personal emails or in-office friendships. When you’re at work, it’s important you maintain focus on your responsibilities as you go. Take time during your lunch hour to catch up on these personal things and decompress. Creating a productive culture and personal workstyle is being a productive careerist. Envision the professional you see yourself as and shape your work style according to that goal.
Do not fear networking and connecting with your co-workers at the professional level. Though age separation may originally feel intimidating, seasoned co-workers may share your anxieties.
“Know yourself and how others perceive you,” Casperson says. “I found it valuable to ask others what their first perception of me was. Ask another professional you trust how you came across when you first met. The answers may surprise you.”
Learning to communicate with people who have different work styles or experiences than you is well worth the time and effort. Often, it’s how you find mentors and supporters. Be assertive with your communication. You will be seen as a go-getter when you do.
Do not be selfish
Work is a two-way street. It’s important you work for the company and let the company work for you. This means doing your best while absorbing lessons to use at your disposal later, whether you move on to a new company or upgrade within your current establishment. If you are congratulated for a job well done and others help you, but weren’t mentioned, be sure to speak up. Practicing business ethics produces good professional karma.
“Volunteer to help a co-worker or superior with a project and soak up as much knowledge as you can,” Casperson says. “Before you know it, you’ll be the expert and people will call on you to help.”
Keep your passion
Young professionals who want to be leaders show great enthusiasm, dedication and early vision for the work they do. They enter their field with a humbled confidence and seek opportunities for growth, upgrades in responsibility and mentorship. Leaders have unlimited potential, whether starting at the entry-level or moving on to management. A leader’s professional morale makes all the difference. Keep yours fresh, engaged, and passion-filled as a young professional.