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.

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.

Keep Your Career Options Open

Author: Emmanuel Pepis, Career Advice

Many of us have been there before. You go to college, you have a desired field you want to study, you graduate, then comes maybe the hardest part: a career track that can resemble a long, winding, and sometimes frustrating road with its share of twists and turns.

It’s great to have goals that you strive for, and you should never lose sight of what you ultimately want in your career path. At the same time, it never hurts to have balance and allow things to fall into place. The results could be pleasantly surprising. And, on top of all that, all are learning experiences in their own forms as well. 


Career paths generally are never linear

There are times we’ll be frustrated by the lack of open jobs. There will be setbacks, and there will be moments where we can take ourselves in a slightly different direction. By making yourself as diverse as possible, you have the potential for many open doors that you may not have thought of when you got your degree. Plus, taking jobs and doing things that you never thought you’d learn or need to know, shows us how much untapped potential is within us. 

Take advantage of opportunities
Of course its important to strive for what you want. You have the power to be in charge of yourself and where you want to be. But you must allow yourself the freedom to become more versatile in your field if and when the opportunity presents itself. No experience is bad experience and it could lead to something you may not have thought was possible. If an opportunities arises, even if it’s not one that you thought you’d ever take, try it out, and see what happens.

Utilize your skill set
Part of the beauty of each person is we all have different skill sets, and everyone should use that to their advantage. Your strengths are what help let you stand out, and most of the time they tend to be what you enjoy the most doing. Use them. If you’re using your skills in your present work, while always keeping your goals in mind, you’re on the right path to getting where you one day want to be. Or, it could lead you to something even better that you may have not thought of before.  

Always remember to network
Networking can truly happen anywhere. Even if you’re not actively looking to change jobs or careers, don’t be afraid to talk to people about what you do or want to do in the future. Talk to your family, friends, current colleagues, former colleagues, and even people you may not know personally. You never know what opportunity will arise, even if it’s one you didn’t know you were looking for.

Don’t think of any job as beneath you
Every job is a learning experience. From bagging groceries to customer service jobs, whatever the position may be, you’re learning skills that you can then translate into another job. Having skills and experiences in other fields, or from jobs that weren’t necessarily originally on your radar, gives you a much broader outlook, and can help your work ethic by approaching things from a different, unbiased perspective.

More Than Just Bagging Groceries: Supermarket Job Skills

Author: Kerrin Frappier, Career Advice

Yes, I worked in a supermarket. I worked as a cashier, a self-checkout assistant and as a service desk clerk. Now, what does this mean? I dealt with complaints, messes, price inaccuracies and long lines in every capacity I fulfilled. But, I also learned a lot, and if you have ever worked in a supermarket, I can guarantee that you learned some of these things as well.

You learn how to work with the public 
A supermarket environment is a great place to enhance your ability to work with the public. It can be trying on most days, but there are rewards, too. You learn the importance of greeting people with a smile, even when you may not be in the mood to “people.” You learn how to deal with difficult customers. And you learn how to get through even the most trying days.

You learn time management
Whether it’s learning how to juggle this job with school, a family, or another job, or just dealing with the busy times and the low times, your supermarket job will teach you how to budget time. At the supermarket, when there are few customers in the store, cashiers and supervisors alike tend to spend time cleaning scanners, putting away unwanted merchandise and organizing displays. There will be times that there seems to be a lull in the action, but you will learn that this isn’t the time to sit down and scroll through Instagram. Take advantage of a little down time and go through work emails, clean up your work space, print up templates and all the other things you are usually forced to rush through or put on the back burner.

You learn to be proud when visits from “higher ups” happen
How can a visit from a higher up be a good thing? But it is. Few things put fear into the heart of a store manager, but a “visit from corporate” is certainly one of them. It can be stressful knowing your appearance, the efficiency and quality of your work and work ethic is being scrutinized by these much-dreaded figures. These are the people who not only have the power to terminate your employment but who are sometimes not as involved in day-to-day doings of where you work as other supervisors. Try to remember that for the most part it is to ensure that laws are being obeyed and that there are no financial crises that have to be dealt with.

You learn how to work with a team 
You learn to be courteous to those you work with, because you want others to be courteous to you. Think about it: would you want to sit and wait for your replacement to come so you can go home? No. You’d be unhappy — so don’t do this to your co-workers. Do not be frequently tardy, and be sure to have your part of any task finished on time.

You learn how to spearhead your job growth
Although memorizing random codes to ring up fruits and vegetables, being yelled at by irate customers, and having to deal with money was overwhelming at first, it can in time become enjoyable. Successfully working in the fast-paced express lanes and fixing problems with self-scanning devices are things you will eventually become proud of. To make yourself more marketable and appealing (should you ever pursue a different career) and to keep yourself from getting restless and bored, spend your time learning as much as you can. Keep growing, and show interest in the work you are in.

YOu learn when it’s time to move on
All things must come to an end, right? As stressful as the work may have been, and as frustrated and burnt-out as you may have felt, you may miss working at the supermarket in the end. 

While you are leaving one opportunity behind, do no forget the things you have discovered along the way — the mistakes you have made and the successes you have celebrated. They are now part of the employee you are. They are what make you an important part of any team.

Take a Deep Breath, and Calm Your Nerves

Author: Emmanuel Pepis, Career Advice

Chances are you’ve experienced nervous anticipation at some point in your life. It may have been before a big exam. Or you may have been getting ready to make a sales pitch on an idea that you’ve crafted and sharpened for months. Or you may have been thinking about your first public speaking gig in front of a large gathering.

Whatever the case may be, it’s natural to feel like your brain is going into overdrive. As a broadcaster, I know I’m conveying a game to an audience and I have to paint that picture as well as possible. It’s taken a while, but I’ve been able to channel that energy, and so can you.

Remember, it’s normal to feel nervous 
Part of the experience is the excitement (and yes, even the nerves) leading up to it. As long as you’re properly prepared, it’s okay to feel this level of anticipation. This provides another avenue to do a final check of sorts before that big meeting or presentation. Plus, it shows how much you care about what you’re about to do.

Don’t overanalyze
If you are overly analytical, this can be difficult. But, when we start playing out different scenarios in our minds, that’s when you throw yourself off course. It can be a fine line between allowing yourself to feel that energy and letting it take over your mind. In this scenario, you’re most likely hardly going to get any sleep the night before and that may compromise you from the start. Take a deep breath, try to divert your mind and do whatever you can to attempt to sleep.

Practice, practice, practice
They say that practice makes perfect, right? And they’re not wrong. Take every chance you can to make sure you’re in the best possible position to succeed. It’s not likely you can anticipate every single scenario, but it’s important to remember that you are the one in control. Be confident in your work, know that you truly did your best to prepare, and the rest will take care of itself.

Wind down the night before
Whether it’s listening to music, watching a show that makes you laugh, reading a book, or something else not listed, once you’ve finished the work and checked all the boxes, allow yourself time to relax. You’ll be well-rested once that energy returns moments before your presentation. And remember, it’ll all be worth it.