office

When Millennials Rise Above in Their Careers

Author: Vanessa Constantinidis, Career Advice

I worked in my alma mater’s study abroad office for four years during my undergraduate career, and was so excited that work-study experience landed me my first “big girl job” at an international non-profit organization in Washington, D.C., working as a Program Assistant. The following summer felt like eternity. Waiting, waiting, waiting to get a call back for a job opportunity. It didn’t help that I was determined to work in international education.

Finally, after three months of postgrad anxiety, I finally had what many millennials want: a salary job working 9-5, moving to a new city, and my very own apartment (with a roommate of course). But most importantly, finally a step into my chosen field.

Eight months in, I was literally referred to as a paper pusher. I looked to my two co-workers in the cubicles next to me, also millennials, to see their reactions — and their faces resembled mine in all ways. Appalled. Discouraged. Confused.

Paper pushers? No, no! We are young and we are innovators. We know how to connect best to students, because we just graduated. We know how to communicate. We are smart, well-traveled, and fluent in multiple languages.

Being referred to as a paper pusher made me question every single academic choice I had ever made. And, I’m sure my inner dialogue will sound familiar to many of you.

Should I not have been an English major? Did my double major even matter? Did I really just spend four years taking out loans to afford my dream school… to do a job that an intern could be doing? Maybe if I had studied business my colleagues would take me more seriously and understand that I matter.  

I’m supposed to be changing the world. I’m supposed to be guiding students to study abroad, and gain a global perspective. I’m supposed to be helping students step outside of their comfort zones. Even though my job position was low on the totem pole, I knew I was more than just a paper pusher.

That comment made me only want to work harder. Immediately, my next step was to consider Master’s programs to advance my education. Not just for the degree, but to continue learning and challenging myself.

In a sense, I was a paper pusher. I had to literally print out health forms and acceptance forms and bring them to our Program Officers to review. But that wasn’t what defined me, and I knew that the job was just a stepping stone.

The truth is, you will always have to start somewhere, and it’s usually at the bottom. The thing that you cannot do is let it keep you down. Be humble and patient in your first step, but remember that you have the power to change your future, and eventually to change the world.

Four years later, I’ve gone from being an assistant to co-managing a college admissions office as the Associate Director. I understand the importance of “paper pushing,” because I once had to do it. I see how the small things affect the big picture. I also see how studying two majors that I love, at a small, liberal arts university that I adore, turned me into the person that I am today. A person who believes that everyone is important and able to make a difference, especially millennials.

And, of course, it was a learning experience as well.

Don’t let the millennial stereotype be true
Yes, you can change this stereotype, or at the very least, take a step in the right direction. Be on time. Be attentive. Work hard. Don’t look for excuses. Don’t go to work hungover. And, if you do, make sure no one can tell.

Learn from great managers and terrible managers
Both will make you grow. You’ll learn what to do, and what not to do. And both do have the power to help you in your long-term career growth.

Don’t text or pick up your phone during a meeting
In fact, do not even take out your phone during meetings. Give the meeting your undivided attention. People will notice. And they’ll especially notice if you’re not paying attention because you’re on your phone.

Don’t let anyone tell you that you aren’t good enough
And, if they do, don’t get mad — prove them wrong. Work harder than you’ve ever worked before. You know what you’re doing, you know you deserve this job (and more). Let them see it too.

Don’t give up
You are young, and that is why you are going to change the world. You’re equipped with new ideas, energy, and have the sparkle in your eyes to keep learning. You will have setbacks, we all do. But you can rise above them as well.

And most importantly, when you start to manage the assistant, intern, the paper pusher — make sure to buy them coffee.

Twitter

How I Got a $10,000 Grant Through Twitter Outreach

Author: Michelle Ioannou, Career Advice

Yes, you read that correctly, I received a $10,000 grant for the nonprofit I work for solely from Twitter outreach.

How did I do it? I connected with people. Yes, that’s all. And yes, that was it.

Social media is meant to be social, it’s right there in the title. Not only should you respond to people who tweet at you, but you should start conversations with others as well. If you see someone tweeting about something applicable to your professional field or your interests, simply respond to their tweet. Show them you know what you’re talking about, show them you have an interest in the things they’re talking about, and show them that your missions are aligned. You truly never know what connections they have, and that’s how it worked out for me!

Yes, this can be like finding a diamond in the rough. It can sound tedious. And yes, it can take an aggressive outreach campaign in order to see results. I dedicated a couple of hours each day solely to reaching out to those on Twitter who were tweeting with similar hashtags that my nonprofit was using. It can sound like a lot, I know. But, I can also tell you firsthand that you can see results, and that it works.

All I did was tweet at someone with a bit of information on my company (within 140 characters, of course), and a bit of incentive for him to help us — a give-get, so to say. And it worked. The person responded. They were interested in us and the work we were doing. And this person just so happened to know a foundation that donated $10,000 to us. This then turned into another $10,000 six months later. And then another $10,000. And so on and so forth, you get the picture.

These thousands of dollars all came from a simple tweet. From connecting with someone on Twitter, and showing him a nonprofit he’s never heard of before — but one that falls directly in line with his mission. 

Social media is truly a powerful tool. It connects us with people in a way that we have never connected with people before. And we need to take advantage of that, because there’s so many opportunities out there on the web, you just need to find them.

Don’t be afraid to directly tweet at someone. Worst case scenario? They don’t answer. Best case scenario? You may just have someone fall in love with your nonprofit/business/brand so much, they want to help fund it, or know someone who does.

Game of Thrones

Career Advice as Told by Game of Thrones

Author: Danny Abriano, Career Advice

Game of Thrones is not only a once-in-a-lifetime show, but one we can learn a lot from. From the struggle of power to the characters to The Game of Thrones, we all learn a thing or two that we can carry over into the workplace. Keep the dragons at home, though.

Never be afraid to speak your mind
The Game of Thrones isn’t one for the timid, and neither is the workplace. That isn’t to say that you should speak out of turn (it won’t get you beheaded out the workplace, only fired). But, you shouldn’t ever hesitate to calmly and coherently let your opinion be known, much like Tyrion advises Dany and Varys advises all. Your thoughts matter, and they can sway decisions.

Embrace new ideas
In the fantasy world of Thrones, seemingly nothing is impossible. Dragons soar and breathe fire, slaughtered heroes are brought back to life, people change faces, and so on. In the workplace, a common refrain is “adapt or die.” And as we get further and further into the digital revolution, it’s important to embrace new ideas not only in that realm, but in others. Make yourself indispensable.

Be relentless
In Thrones, it’s important to be relentless when it comes to your beliefs, when you’re in battle, and when you’re going after someone you love. In the workplace, that relentless nature needs to be used to not only establish yourself, but to impress those above and below you. That doesn’t mean there shouldn’t be a work/life balance. But when you’re at work, be sure to lead by example.

Try not to mix business and pleasure
Yes, workplace romances “can” work out. But, they ordinarily don’t, and the result is not only an awkward situation between colleagues, but some messy visits with human resources. Take a lesson from Daario, who fell in love with Dany, and was left behind. Keep it professional.

Take what’s yours
As the players on Game of Thrones vie to be ruler of the realm, with many claiming that rightful title is theirs, they battle for that claim. You have to do the same thing at work. Is someone trying to take credit for something you did? Speak up. Are you the one who deserves that promotion? Prove it. Is there a project you know you can slaughter? Take charge and say so.

 

The battle at the workplace, much like the battle for the Iron Throne, is not for the timid. Act accordingly. But watch out for land mines along the way.

boss

How to Prove Yourself to Your Boss

Author: Michelle Ioannou, Career Advice

It seems like an easy thing being able to prove yourself to your boss, right? But sometimes, it just isn’t. This is especially hard when you’re the youngest one in the office. It’s not always the easiest to be taken seriously when your boss is old enough to be your parent.

But, you’re there to do a job, and you not only need to do it, but you need to impress your boss as well. Why? You want a promotion. You want him or her to write you a letter of recommendation when you eventually move on. You want to make a good impression.

Always be early
Don’t stroll in 20 minutes late with your Starbucks in your hand. Stroll in ten minutes earlier with your Starbucks in hand instead. Early is on time, on time is late. Get to work a bit early to bang out those emails you need to respond to, ask your boss if there’s anything they need help with, or just to get settled in before the mad rush starts.

Take initiative
Don’t overstep, but don’t be afraid to create your own projects, or ask to take on something that you know needs to be done. You don’t want to sit there twiddling your thumbs until your boss comes to you with a full to-do list that needs to get done by 5p.m. Instead, create your own projects that you know will benefit the company or your department. Make a list of ideas you want to run by your boss. Brainstorm new programs, events, and so on.

Don’t take advantage
If you have an hour for lunch, stick to being gone for under an hour. Don’t turn it into an hour and a half or closer to two hours. If your boss isn’t there for the day, don’t take advantage of this and fool around; things have a way of getting back to your boss. You want to show your boss that you’re there to work, not to take advantage of the bar down the block’s lunch specials.

Ask questions
How can you learn if you’re not asking questions? Ask your boss why they did something. Ask how the company achieved certain milestones or results. Ask your boss how they got to where they are right now. You’re showing that you do want to learn and better yourself — both as an employee of the company and as a young professional.

Be helpful
Ask your boss what projects he or she is working on, and if any help is needed. Ask about future ideas are for your department or company, and see if you can start working on anything to help spearhead those. Show that you’re a reliable worker — one who can handle a strong workload.

Don’t cut out early 
Work until the time you’re supposed to. Don’t try and sneak out a half hour early. Of course, if you do need to leave early, just be honest and let your boss know. Your boss will likely appreciate the honesty, and be entirely okay with you leaving a bit early — especially if you don’t make a habit out of it, and if you get all of your work done first.

Be honest and respectful
Don’t lie to your boss. It truly will just come back to bite you. Be open and honest, especially if it’s about something that’s negatively impacting your work. Additionally, whether or not you like your boss, at the end of the day, they are your superior, and the one who can help pave your future career path. Always be respectful.

life coach

What I’ve Learned in My New Career as a Life Coach, So Far

Author: #NAMB Guest Author, Career Advice

As a self-professed nerd and self-development addict, I have recently started the journey of having a life-coaching, the main reason being my life coach uses a curriculum, so there are set learning objectives and outcomes.This was a huge plus for me because I knew I would be pushed to learn and grow out of this.

My life coach, Andrea Owen (who has a great podcast btw), uses the work of Brene Brown around the concepts of shame and vulnerability and let me tell you, these concepts are powerful! If you haven’t heard of Brown and her work, I would encourage you to listen to one of her two TED talks or read one of her books (Daring Greatly is a good one to start with).

Few disclaimers about life-coaching that I should tell you here: most life-coaches are not therapists and are not reimbursed from insurance. They also tend to be more expensive than therapists.

I have learned so much from my life coaching, and I am not finished yet, but I want to talk some about negative self-talk.

The words we say to ourselves are so incredibly important and something I think we overlook. I do a tremendous amount of research on the brain and will infuse some brain basics in this to really drive home the importance of positive self-talk. Negative self-talk will likely look different for everyone, but for me, it is messages like “you are not good enough, why are you even trying,” or “who do you think you are, you are not qualified for this.” They also creep into what I believe and the stories I make up about relationships. Brown refers to negative self-talk as the gremlins in our brain. I think that visual is a nice one to really help drive the point home. When I think of gremlins, I think of those awful gremlins from the ’90s movie. Not a good look.

Think about your best friend. Would you talk to him or her the way you talk to yourself? Would you say the same things to him or her when they are feeling bad or upset as you say to yourself? Why are we okay with our internal dialogue being so negative even though we wouldn’t say those things to other people.

Negative talk frequently comes from the unconscious part of our brain that dictates most of our choices. Have you ever driven home and forgotten how you got there? That is the work of your unconscious brain. This means we probably aren’t always thinking about the things we say internally and we let those same messages go on repeat. When this happens, the messages begin to stick in our brain and feel real to us even if they are not. The brain is a powerful organ!

I have learned from personal experience that overcoming negative self-talk will change the way you see yourself and see the world. When I stopped the gremlins when they started to pop up and changed those thoughts my outlook on myself and life changed. It was crazy! A great first step is to try to identify the negative self-talk. If you are hearing negative words in your brain and they are making you feel bad, identify them as negative self-talk. Start first by literally internally telling the gremlins to stop. It sounds weird and hippy-dippy, but try it.

Eventually, the goal is to change the thoughts you hear in your brain and to replace them with other statements and affirmations. So, when you internally hear “you’re not qualified, so why are you even trying,” replace it with “I am qualified to do my job and am doing a great job at it.” Even if you don’t really believe that at the beginning, repeat it internally because remember, when you repeat things they get imprinted into your brain and you will start to believe them. Just flip the negative self-talk with the positive to have those outcomes that you want.  

 

About the Author:


Jessica Sharp is a 27-year-old social justice advocate living in South Carolina. She works in healthcare diversity and loves her job. She is passionate about empowering underserved groups, diverse representation, and brain education. She regularly blogs for GenTwenty, but is stretching her wings a bit because she loves #NAMB!