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.

The Real Deal About Working in a Small Office

Author: Michelle Ioannou, Career Advice

I have worked in small offices for all of my professional years — from when I started interning as a college junior up until now. I personally prefer the smaller environment, but I can assure you, it’s not for everyone. Whereas there are many pros, there are also many cons. Yes, you will find good and bad in any working environment, but obviously, these differences vary.

You get your feet wet in different fields
Yes, I work and specialize in communications, but in a small office, it’s all hands on deck. If someone in another department needs help, you bet I’m there working on it. I personally love this as my work each day is never the same — it doesn’t get mundane. Plus, I get experience and knowledge even outside of my field, which can help better me in the future.

Everyone knows each other
The CEO knows me by name. I work directly alongside the Director of Communications. By everyone knowing each other, you develop relationships with higher-ups that you may not develop if you were in large companies. I have many friends who have never met their CEO, meanwhile I speak to mine almost daily.

…which can lead to drama and gossip
If two people get into a disagreement, you bet the entire office knows about it. This happens in any small environment, but of course it’s a bit tricky when it’s your professional working environment. Just don’t get involved in things that are going on between others, and focus on your own personal work and development.

Your work is recognized
The CEO and the Directors know what work or projects you completed. Your name is attached and associated with them. People are aware of what you contribute, especially those higher-ups. In fact, in some cases where applicable, even the Board of Directors will know your work and contributions as well.

You have more responsibility 
As there’s only a small amount of people to get work done, you’re given more responsibility. No one has time to look over your shoulder and watch what you do, or tell you what to do, as they have to get their own work done. You need to be a go-getter and a self-starter/motivator if you work in a small office.

 

Have you worked in a small office? What was your experience like?

Things to Learn and Remember When Working in an Office

Author: Mary Grace Donaldson, Career Advice

More often than not, “going to work” means going to an office for many millennials. We’re surrounded by colleagues and cubicles on the daily. But, there’s a lot to take away from an office setting that isn’t just about the actual work. Here’s a few lessons:

 

Clean up after yourself
Nobody likes the coworker who doesn’t clean up after him or herself. You’re not the only person using communal space here, i.e. the fridge, the coffee pot, the microwave, the bathroom… you get the picture. And then there’s the K-Cup that gets left in the Keurig when you’re finished using the Keurig. Throw away your K-Cup — someone else needs to use the Keurig today. Take a paper towel and dust the sugar off the counter. Put your lunch away. It takes little to no effort.

Don’t forget to log out
Everyone forgets from time to time. But, how would you feel if when signing on to a shared computer, someone else’s Google account login information was saved… and the next thing you know, you’re signed in to a coworker’s Gmail account? Not saying that the occasional check of the personal email or GChat or even social media doesn’t happen. But it’s just awkward for everyone when you’re looking, even accidentally, at someone else’s stuff… and the same goes for someone else looking at your stuff.

The temperature isn’t always ideal
What may be comfortable for you more than likely isn’t comfortable for your cubicle neighbor. If you find yourself feeling warm, carry your water bottle. Step outside to get some air. Go to the bathroom to splash cold water on your face. If you’re more prone to be cold, carry a sweater. Bring a hot beverage. Pack extra socks. And if all that doesn’t work and you absolutely cannot take it anymore, politely — without making an announcement to the entire office — let a supervisor know that you’re uncomfortable.

Working with other people isn’t always easy
You’re going to have different personalities working on a project — it’s inevitable. It’s possible you won’t get along with everyone. There’s even the potential that one person will pull more of his or her weight than others. It sucks. But you learn to deal with it if you want to keep your job.

Time management is key
When you’re in an office, you aren’t on your own time — you’re on their time. And as a result, you have to manage it, possibly differently than you’d normally manage your own time. You have to take the schedules of others into consideration when completing assignments. While it’s not always possible to plan out your entire day at the office, plan as much of it as possible. You, your colleagues, and your boss will work better for it.