When I graduated, one word “recession”, and things hadn’t quite bounced back yet. I was living in Nashville, and things were…hard. It was hard to find a job, even though I had a Bachelors, finished a semester early, graduated magna cum laude, and had interned in Washington, D.C. for three summers before graduation. It didn’t matter. No matter how successful I was pre-graduation, I still could not find a job that properly defined my worth, in any field. So, I went on to get my Masters in Management, and moved to an area that I was longing to return to, the D.C. metro area.
As the saying goes, hard times don’t last always though. Fast forward so many years later, nine years in a successful 6-figure career in IT, with a top-notch firm. I must say that I’ve been blessed. However, getting to this point felt like it would never happen, but nothing worth having, comes easy, especially a long-term and successful career.
Recently, a young lady named Bridgette, introduced herself to me at work. She said it was her first week at our firm. I welcomed her, and she proceeded to inform me that it was her first job out of college. Wow, lucky her, right? She’s already ahead of the game by landing a position with such a prestigious firm, fresh out of undergrad. Many long for that, no matter if we are in a recession or not. Bridgette didn’t hesitate to ask me a question, a great question. She asked, what is the best advice that I could give her, as a young millennial starting her career. Since I didn’t want to leave you all out of the mix, as I gave Bridgette some sound and great advice if I do say so myself, I decided to share with my fellow MillBuzzers. Keep reading, I don’t want you to miss this.
Here are the four things that I told Bridgette, and it would behoove you to take heed too:
1. Stay with the firm and don’t move around too much. There are positions and other companies that will always look more attractive, better, and appealing, as the grass almost always looks greener on the other side. Chances are, it’s not. The last thing you want to do, is bounce around unnecessarily from company to company. Unless you work within the government contracting space, it’s frowned upon for many negative reasons, even though that may not be the case. Save yourself from even having to explain your way out of that at your next interview
2. Plant your seeds within the firm and grow. Work your way up and never get to comfortable doing one thing. Take your time and find a company where you can grow right there and retire from. The baby boomers had quite a few things right, and this is one of them. They worked a job until they retired from it. Keep that same energy that they had and retire from the company that you start with. Now I get it, it may not always be a fit, but that one that is a good fit, stick to it, grow and retire from the company. Remember, I already said the grass almost always looks greener, so do not be deceived by what “looks” like it’s better. Chances are, it never really is.
3. Network, network, network. The more connected you are, the better your chances are for being connected to the right people who can help you to grow and get to the next big milestone within your career, that you want to be. Saying connected and tapped in to the various firm sponsored events, attending those events, and being proactive about making the right connections are key. Remember, it’s not what you know, it’s who you know. I can’t tell you how many people that I know or have met, who have gotten what they wanted and needed out of their careers, by simply who they know
4. Continue your education.By this, I don’t mean that it’s a must that you go back to school. What I mean is, get all the certifications that you can get, take all the courses and boot camps that pertain to your background and your position that you can, because continuous education is power. It can help you to leverage yourself and make you even more marketable than some of your counterparts who have just their degrees. Certs are extremely helpful when negotiating salary and a salary increase. I am working on my PMP, Project Management Professional, and CSM, Certified Scrum Master certifications, all firm paid.
Before I go, I want to share a few bonus tips. If your company doesn’t offer a mentor program, find one that is within your field or industry. They do not have to necessarily be at your same company, although it would be best if they are, because they would be able to share a lot with you such as the ins and outs of company, plus mentor you. Finally, get your worth as far as salary, but, do not let a few coins deter you from beginning your career with a great company. The benefits should always outweigh the salary. What I mean is, if a company is offering a slightly less competitive salary than the next, but the benefits and the overall culture is better, go with that.