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.

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!

The Difference Between “It’s Not My Job” and Knowing Your Boundaries

Author: Mary Grace Donaldson, Career Advice

No matter your workplace, there’s always the possibility that you’ll be pulled to some form of, as they say, “double duty.”

This phenomenon is particularly common in small offices, where staffs are shorter and have no choice but to become more versatile. There’s nothing wrong with learning a few skills outside of the realm of your job duties — in fact, those skills will help your resume in the long run.

But at what point does it become just too much?

A 2015 article from The Atlantic addresses the issue of what happens to competent workers who are thrown into a sea of lazier colleagues. The moral of the story? If you show expertise and initiative in the workplace, you end up performing everyone else’s job duties, too!

Now, there are upsides and downsides to this catch-22.

Upsides

You’ll be noticed by your boss
Employee of the month? Meetings about your future with the company? Being kept in the loop about the happenings of the company? Yup. All of this and more will potentially be on your radar. Your boss is more likely to act as both your career mentor and sponsor, and as a result, can open doors for you.

You have reason to ask for a raise
You’re working extra hours. You’re helping to train the new employees. You’re the go-to person when the computer decides to have a mind of its own, or when dealing with a particular customer who you know best. You’re going above and beyond, and that should warrant a raise.

You’ll sleep easier
In both the literal and figurative senses. Sometimes a moral compass is helpful in the workplace, and you’ll know for yourself, if no one else, that you truly did the best you could. If there’s a chance that you’ll be reviewed, or your work will be looked at closely in the near, or even the not-so-near future, you’ll have confidence that your work is the best it can possibly be. You won’t doubt yourself in this type of surprise circumstance.

Downsides

You might not be noticed by your boss
And, as a result, you may end up feeling resentful, angry, and/or hostile toward other colleagues who may get noticed by your boss when they don’t put in nearly the same effort that you do. Office politics are an unfortunate reality — and aren’t always put on the back burner in favor of the person who is, in fact, the hardest worker. Not to mention, you could feel resentful of your boss, too.

You could sacrifice self-care
Nothing, not even work, is worth giving up your well-being. If you find yourself waking up feeling nauseous at just the thought of going to work, that could be a clue that you’re a) working “too hard,” b) are not appreciated, or c) all of the above. When hard work is rewarded and acknowledged, you’ll wake up easier — to the point that work won’t interfere with your wellness. But once it does? It’s time to re-evaluate.

Your colleagues may take advantage of your nature
Unfortunately, we all have those colleagues who look to that hardworking employee — and say “oh, Susan will do it, she won’t be able to leave it alone.” And that’s not okay… that’s just lazy.

 

The trick to all this? Strike a balance. Always pitch in. Do your job, and go above and beyond. But don’t let yourself become the office doormat. You’re better than that.

Know what your boundaries are, and understand that your boundaries aren’t always the same as your colleagues’. If you’re working hard, being acknowledged for it, and not sacrificing your happiness, your employer quite possibly has a reasonable definition of “above and beyond.” If you’re working hard, anxious, tired, resentful, and feeling like your colleagues are parasites who depend on you to complete any task they just “don’t feel” like completing… those are clues that your limit has been reached, and possibly exceeded.

Why American Millennials in College Deserve More Than the Cost of Education

Author: Mary Grace Donaldson, Current Events/Politics

When you were a college student, did you work? Or, if you’re currently a college student, what do you do for work?

I’m sure you’re tired of the questions — the ones that sound like “How are you paying for school? College is just so expensive,” and “How are you going to pay off those student loans? Better start paying them now.” While they are all coming from well-intentioned “adultier adults,” they are sure to grate on you after a while.

But the truth of the matter is that the cost of college today almost requires the average student to work in order to pay that aforementioned tuition.

Recently, ABODO, a startup that specializes in helping potential renters (including college students) with finding local, affordable apartments, released “The Old College Try,” a report based on statistics surrounding working college students. The statistics are astounding, but honestly not surprising considering the current state of the economy.

By the report’s definition, a “working student” is a “student in a two- or four-year undergraduate degree-granting program who works 27 weeks per year.” The report goes on to indicate that “52% of working students in the United States” fit the above definition. Do you? 

In addition to work, these students are of course still determined to do whatever it takes to get their respective educations. According to the report, “almost 25% of students are paying for college with some of their own money, while only 11% of students are not paying for college with any of their own money. Students are spending most of their money on food (83%), books (70.7%), transportation (70.7%), bills (57.7%), tuition (50.7%) and housing (49.8%).”

But, let’s stop talking about money for just a second… and let’s talk about time.

Between classwork and homework, papers, exams and extracurriculars (which have become almost necessary for any college student to put on their resumes), students’ weeks are consumed. Not to mention, college is not just for classroom learning and extracurriculars, either. The friendships you make in college have the potential to lead to lifelong friendships, even if you’re getting together in a different way than you were before, when you were students. But socializing, like anything else, is another time commitment, and one that shouldn’t be overlooked.

Then add a job to a typical college student’s list of commitments — which forces us to take a hard look at probably the report’s most startling statistic: “the largest portion of students attending both public and private schools work between 31 and 40 hours a week.”

40 hours a week? That sounds a lot like the definition of “full-time.” The college experience is meant to get students ready for the working world and to make them more well-rounded, giving them education both in the classroom and — cliché I know — in the “school of life.” It’s not meant to launch students into full-time work before joining the world of full-time work.

Which brings us back to money. The cost of college has skyrocketed to the point that students need to work full-time hours in order to earn their degrees — and, in turn, overloading their schedules, possibly missing out on important lessons outside of the classroom, and, according to this report from the University of Georgia, not getting enough sleep.

So, what are we to do? What needs to change, to be regulated? Is there a need for greater government involvement in the cost of college? What opportunities should be made a priority?

I’m not saying I have the answers. But there’s one thing I can say for sure: in terms of both time and money, our country’s college students deserve better.