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A Young Professional’s Guide to Success

As students leave the comfort of college life and step into the professional work force, being successful is something that new professionals long for.

Imagine yourself, a young 22 year old college graduate with a degree in finance, a $70k salary, a nice loft apartment in the city, a luxury car, and designer clothes. Sounds great doesn’t it! Well,  what is actually the reality is that you live in a small studio outside of the city, a $35k a year salary and student loans up the whaa-zoo! If this is you don’t fret! You can still accomplish success as a new professional despite your salary!

I often use a quote by Aurthur Ashe, ” Success is a Journey, not a destination” . In this blog post, I plan to divulge a few helpful tips that will get you on your way to achieving success as a young professional. These simple tips can be applied in most professional settings and be helpful in advancing your career, or boosting your confidence in the office.

Helpful Tips:

1. Find a mentor who can assist you professionally. Most people who find success will tell you that they’ve had at least one of more mentors who provided them with guidance. Mentors are also helpful when making the adjustment from college to the professional workplace. I strongly recommend finding someone in your workplace who can also mentor you and coach you during your adjustment as a new professional.

2. Build a strong and positive relationship with your colleagues.  Remember, you are not at work or not in business to make friends at work. What you should aim for is to build professional relationships with colleagues in the workplace. No one wants a team member who they cannot depend on or is not a team player. As a young professional, you should seek to develop professional relationships, not non-productive cliques.

3. Know how to “work” your supervisor. Getting to know your supervisor is not as easy as it seems. It requires keen observation, attention to detail, and initiative. This doesn’t mean that you need to “brown nose” your supervisor. You need to be able to know and  meet your supervisors professional needs before they tell you what they are. If you do not know what I mean, a good book to read would be, “48 Laws of Power”.

4. Go the extra mile. Don’t be afraid to stay after 5pm sometimes. It can be a great time to get organized for the next day, get ahead on some work, or to work on some new and creative ideas.  This also means, going the extra mile with your work!  Don’t be afraid to try to implement those new and exciting ideas. If your there is a need for a operational manual , create it!

5. Learn your organizational history and culture. Take time to read more intensively on your organization, seek additional information and insight from those who have been around for 5, 10 + years. Their insight could be helpful in your transition in the workplace and further your understanding on why things are the way they are. Understanding the organizational culture is also critical to your success. In order to thrive in your environment you need to understand and be able to work within the culture.

6. Don’t be resistant to change. Change is inevitable, don’t be resistant to it, be flexible, able to adapt to various situations and environments. If you are resistant to change in the workplace, you may find that your work place may not be resistant to changing your employment status!

7. Establish a professional identity. This is very important, early on in your career, perhaps before your professional career beings, you should establish your professional identity. This means, you should exude the characteristics and ethics of the someone who is in a position you aspire to have. Meaning, if you aspire to be a CFO, you should begin to develop the skills and tools of a CFO. A good way to start is to find a job description of the job you aspire to have, find ways to gain the skills and qualities required for the position and create a road map to attain those skills and qualities. Never stay stagnant in your career!  Create your road map to success! Start by creating your 3-year professional road map, then your next 3-5 year road map. After you have completed a year in your map, evaluate your progress!

Now that you have read these tips, I encourage you to put them into action. Apply these simple tips in your career. If you are not a young professional you can apply these tips when you start a new position at a new company or organization. Always remember, “Success is a journey, not a destination!” Keep striving for success and have a fun journey!

Kelvin Harris

November 17, 2011


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