By now, older millennials, like myself, have quite a bit of professional experience under their belts. As I move into my thirties (gasp!), it is clear I am now a “senior millennial“. I know there are a lot of negative stigmas attached to my generation in the workforce, so as an “experienced” millennial, I feel an obligation to offer a few professional suggestions to the younger members of my generation.
I put this at the top of the list because it is a pet peeve of mine and I have personally encountered the flaky, over committed, has lots of great ideas but never comes through, millennial many times. There have been times where I, too, have struggled with this because I am excited about the work I am doing and I want to do everything and be everywhere. But in the end, I end up disappointing people and they stop coming to me because clearly “I am too busy“. Have you considered how this appears in the professional environment? If you are one of these people, then more than likely you might miss out on new and challenging projects and cause unnecessary tension among your colleagues. If you are a person of your word, people will find you reliable, dependable, and your words or commitments are not empty. Trust me, it will get you far.
I know it can be easy to go into task mode and follow every direction your supervisor gives you. But I encourage you to think about the things you do. Ask yourself these questions, “Can I help improve the process?“, “Can I offer a solution?“, “Do I see a mistake?“. More than likely, your supervisor is not looking for a mindless robot. They hired you for a reason! I know I personally appreciate it when my interns in the past go above and beyond expectations. The less hand holding I have to do, the more trust and confidence I have in that person. And if they seem to be more on top of things than me, I’m going to depend on them more. I think this attitude will help any professional, like yourself, grow much quicker in your career and keep you from being complacent.
Sigh… the art of delegation is an ongoing skill I am learning and highly encourage you to learn early in your career. I have had to learn the hard way through seasons of burnout I cannot simply do everything and it does not make you weak to ask for help. This is especially hard for me because I grew up with the pull yourself up by your bootstraps mentality so it has been a growing process. And as I am learning, I think delegation is mutually beneficial. Anytime I can pass down my work to someone I notice it helps them feel included or add new skills to their resume while giving myself more time to focus on the strategic tasks. The end goal is being able to manage your time and priorities.
Share Your Thoughts
How many people have been on a conference call and the moderator/leader is asking the group questions, but NO ONE answers? “Bueller? Bueller?” Anyone?
I know it can be scary to offer thoughts and ideas that could potentially be rejected or feel paralyzed by fear because you might say something wrong. For me, I started off small. I offered an idea here and there in safe environments like my weekly department meetings. And sure enough, it became easier along the way. While there may be uncertainty, I think the benefits of speaking up outweigh the risks. For example, I was part of a committee on which I was very active. Over time my colleagues started to look to me as a resource and a thought leader, which later resulted in being asked to lead the committee. I’ve seen proof good things can come by sharing.
Get a Mentor
I did not start thinking about getting a mentor until later in my career. It was when I felt like I was floating around with no goal in mind I started to think carefully about joining a mentorship program. I sought out my supervisor and other colleagues about mentorship programs. They gave me some helpful tips and recommendations like have a goal in mind and find someone who is doing well in the industry you are in. What I appreciated about my mentor from the program was he offered different perspectives and challenged me to look at things differently. This is not to say you have to go through a mentorship program necessarily. You probably have many of them around you, like your supervisor. I learned also you can not always wait for a mentor to pursue you, you often have to initiate the relationship.
I still have a lot to learn, but I hope that something in my comments may have resonated with you. If it did, then act upon it – today. You direct your own career path. I know as millennials, we have the tendency to compare where we are in our careers with others like the 7-year-old CEO of his own company who makes and sells his own bow ties! But I encourage you to fight the temptation. Because, after all, it is about the journey, not the destination.
What would you add to the list?