A collection of career wisdom in honor of the Graduating Class of 2023
This month I thought I’d honor the class of 2023 by soliciting comments from some of the smartest career coaches I know. These amazing women spend hundreds of hours every month reviewing resumes, preparing candidates for interviews, coaching on salary negotiations and hiring great talent. Additionally, they have all been early-career professionals and have lessons learned from those early days. I’ve collected their wisdom here. Remember, evolution happens when you heed advice from those who’ve stumbled before you. Enjoy!
Expand your horizons and look at things from a broader perspective. A college major is just one part of your journey and doesn’t need to define your career. Explore your interests and find the things that absorb you – projects where time flies and you want to do more or dig deeper – pursue THAT career. Don’t pick a career path or job solely on salary or where you THINK you should be at a specific point in your life. Solicit advice from a broad spectrum of people, process the information and then pick a path. If it’s wrong, pick another one and move forward. Every position adds to your knowledge – both positive and negative experiences. ~Courtney
Find people you can trust, rely on for advice and mentor you. Build yourself a team of people that will lift you up and you can learn from – you don’t have to pretend to know it all! ~Nicole
It is important to do your research. Ask questions that matter to you on work culture and expectations before you “Say yes to the dress.” Loyalty is admirable and important, just remember where loyalty should first lie – with yourself and your family. It is one thing to stay with an employer and demonstrate how loyal and productive you can be, but it is entirely another thing to stay where you are not fulfilling your potential or growing professionally and personally out of loyalty. “Yes” is not the only answer when you have a job you love. No one has died from hearing the word “no,” and it is ok to set boundaries and protect the time that matters to you. ~Jennifer
Start by focusing on developing a strong skill set and gaining experience. Every opportunity is a chance to learn and this can be done with internships, jobs or volunteering. Build a network and stay connected with those you meet. Your professional relationships are key. Take risks and don’t be afraid to get outside of your comfort zone. It’s the best way to find what you’re passionate about! ~Kaylee
Apply for jobs that may be a stretch for you at that time. You can learn and grow more quickly that you think. Also, when someone tells you something about a co-worker that is derogatory, don’t take their word for it. Get to know the person and be your own judge. ~Sherri
Allow yourself to be challenged and blossom, even when it’s uncomfortable. While it can feel good to stick it out and contribute when there are problems, it’s okay to walk away and prioritize what will help your career in the future. ~Jenny
Stay passionate about what you want to do. Don’t just pick a career because someone persuaded you to do so. Once you begin your career always give 100%. Make sure you always do your best and have a goal. Consistently look around you and suggest ways to improve processes, as well as team comradery. Stick to your values and allow yourself lots of time to learn so you can achieve the level you want to be at in the future. ~Kelly
Be intentional with your time. Make time management a focus and incorporate time blocking into your days, both professionally and personally. Set boundaries for yourself and work smarter, not harder, right out of the gate. Network, network, network! Now is the time to get out there (when you’re young and have more flexibility and energy). You never know who you’re going to meet—it could be a new client, a mentor, a friend, or a future manager or colleague. Also, don’t eat lunch at your desk. It can be so tempting to power through your lunch hour, but this is a really bad habit to get into. Even if it’s just for 15 minutes, learn to step away. If you always eat at your desk, you’ll eventually feel guilty when you DO need to take that lunch break. ~Annie
Embrace mentorship. I did not have the benefit of a mentor early in my career and as a mentor for young women today, I can see that having a mentor magnifies their success. You’ll likely have an early career mentor, a mid-career mentor and an executive coach at the point that you are ready to vie for the corner office. Invest in yourself through these relationships. ~Kimberly
Early career professionals – YOU are the future of how business operates, how innovation happens and how we will guide our planet through the next 50 years. We’re counting on you! For more advice on your job search, visit us here!