A couple (OK, fine. Three.) disclaimers right from Jump Street here:
1. I believe much of the generational talk out there acts a lot like a self-fulfilling prophecy. We paint with too broad a brush about this generation or that, and by gosh, wouldn’t you know it? They sometimes tend to maybe in some situations act according to their generational stereotypes.
2. That’s not to say there’s no validity at all to the generational generalizations.
3. And before you’re tempted to chalk this post up to me being some crotchety, cantankerous curmudgeon, please understand that some would consider me part of this generation.
So there. Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, let’s get to it.
From time to time I have the privilege of speaking with young professionals groups. Here are some tips I often share with folks within those contexts.
1. Avoid the Spray and Pray method of finding your next career stop.
Think about what makes you come alive. Consider your skills, abilities, and experience. Now find industries/companies where those things intersect. That’s where you should target your search.
2. Find and utilize professional mentors.
This is an often-overlooked tool not only for professional growth, but also for networking and exposure.
3. Embrace humility.
Stay humble. Stay hungry.
4. Fight perceptions.
Fair or not, your generation is often perceived as lazy, entitled, spoiled, etc. Yeah, it’s a bum rap; but complaining about it isn’t going to help you shatter folks’ preconceived ideas about you.
5. Quit acting like experience doesn’t matter.
Please, please, please don’t allow yourself to succumb to the temptation to take pot-shots at those with more experience than you. Acknowledge the huge benefit there can be in experiencing things in the workplace, and don’t be so quick to equate experience with lack of innovation or some other such nonsense. You hate to be pigeonholed because of your age and experience, so logic would seem to dictate that you shouldn’t pigeonhole others for the same reasons.
6. Advanced degrees are great, but they’re not the meal ticket you’re tempted to think they are.
Pursuing advanced degrees just because you’re not sure what to do is a terrible idea. If you’re not sure what to do, start trying stuff.
7. You’re not Lady Gaga, so quit living for the applause, applause, applause.
This one’s pretty self-explanatory, no?
8. Learn how to think.
And not just think at random. Teach yourself to engage in critical thought, contemplation, and so on.
9. Learn the art of asking questions.
You know, like Socrates.
Work at being a servant who leads, not someone who merely serves when it’s convenient.