Archive | September, 2012

Generation Y Redefines Success

18 Sep

My senior year of high school, I had the genius idea of taking AP Physics, AP Calculus, and AP Statistics, all at the same time.

I pushed myself so hard that year all because I wanted to earn college credits and therefore graduate from college in less than four years.

I did that.

I started working a full-time job at the age of 19 and earned my bachelor’s degree in two and a half years.

I figured that if I got my degree early and had some experience under my belt, I’d be ahead of the game career-wise and would be taking steps towards my journey up the quote-on-quote career ladder. If I did this, I would be a few steps closer to becoming the VP of some great company where my work would consume all of my energy every day.

That’s what success looked like most of my life.

I was taught, growing up, that in order to be a successful woman I’d have to work really hard so that I could one day break through these ceilings that were said to be made of glass. And if I did manage to achieve this, well,  I’d become the much-respected senior executive of some company where I would spend 40+ hours every week.

That’s what I was supposed to want.

That’s what I’ve always been capable of doing.

To not reach that goal, I was told, would be a waste of my potential. It would be a waste of my intellect. I would be a failure.

So all my life, this is the goal that I’ve worked towards.

In doing so, however, I’ve allowed others to determine what success looks like in my life.

A few years later, having been in the workforce, I look at the senior executives of many great organizations and I think to myself…really? This is what I want? This is what I’ve worked so hard for all these years?

To work 60 hours a week? To not have time to do the things that I love to do? To have better relationships with the strangers I go to meetings with once a month than with the people I’ve known all my life?

Something’s wrong here.

I know, in my heart, that I DON’T want that.

But I’m supposed to, right?

I’m smart, I’m ambitious, I have big dreams….OBVIOUSLY that’s what success looks like, right?

WRONG.

You see, success can’t be defined so narrowly. Success, also, shouldn’t be defined for you by anyone else. Success is very personal and it varies.

My definition of success can be very different from your definition.

Likewise, my definition of success at 22 can be very different from my definition of success at 40.

That’s okay.

The point is that today I look back on the past few years of my life and although I don’t regret the way my life has played out, I wish that I had allowed myself to form my own definition of success.

Without the influence of society.

Without the influence of my friends.

Without the influence of my parents.

Success should have been between me and me alone.

Today, when I think of success, I don’t think about working for some multi-million dollar corporation managing all of the best accounts, swiftly climbing the corporate ladder.

Instead, I think about being happy. I think about finding a career that I love, one that challenges me. I think about a career that allows me to help others, that allows me to give back in some way. I think about having time to travel and hang out with my friends. I think about making sure that I have enough time to devote to a relationship and building a family one day. Success, to me, means being inspired and having interesting work to do. Success, therefore, is not being bored.

That doesn’t make me any less ambitious.

That doesn’t make me any less determined.

It just means that I’m working towards something different.

And I’ll never apologize for that.

I think that Generation Y wants to succeed, we want to be successful. But at the same time, our picture of success is very different from that of generations before us. The idea of working 80 hours a week behind a desk with no time to pursue our other interests is not really all that appealing.

That’s why we’re asking for flex time.

That’s why there no longer exists a corporate ladder.

That’s why we’re seen as so demanding.   

We want more to life than just work.

And for that… I’m sorry that I’m not sorry.

Other stuff you might like:

Don’t Wait, Be Happy Now

Relax, Being Lost is a Good Thing

Random Ramblings on Being a Young Adult

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5 Awesome Ways to Prep For Your Career While in College

12 Sep

Okay, so we’re in college. And all we really want to do is lounge around, skip class, hang out with our friends, and stalk fraternity boys.

But NO.

We’re told we can’t do that.

Instead, we’re told that we need to be “preparing for our futures”.

And how are we supposed to do that?

Oh, well, by interning and updating our resumes and attending corporate lectures about how to interview properly, etc., etc., more boring stuff, etc.

Okay, fine. I guess to a certain degree those are all decent ways to prepare for your career.

HOWEVER…

I think there have to be better ways to do that.

Here are some:

1. Travel

I don’t care if it takes you five hundred years to graduate school. If you do ANYTHING on this list, please, for the love of God and all things holy…

GO TRAVEL.

“Oh, but I don’t have the money to travel.”

Dude, if I catch you buying new rims for your car instead of going on a trip somewhere, prepare to be slapped.

No, but really, traveling is an amazing way to prepare for your career. Why? Because first of all, traveling helps you to discover so much about yourself. By experiencing time on your own in a new place, you’re taught how to handle yourself in new surroundings and ***newsflash*** in the workforce, the most successful people are the ones who know how to do just that.

They know how to adapt and survive.

Not to mention the fact that traveling gives you something to talk about with pretty much anyone. When you enter the workforce, until you get used to it, going to networking events and talking to your peers is going to be kind of…awkward.

You might feel like a loser with zero social skills.

You might in fact BE a loser with zero social skills.

BUT if you’ve traveled, you’ll have something to talk about and you won’t have to deal with those brutally awkward moments of silence.

You know how people with pets LOVE to talk about their animals?

Well, people who’ve traveled LOVE to talk about their experiences.

So do yourself a favor and if you ever have the opportunity to travel or to study abroad, do it. Please.

2. Join a Random Club

Yes, a random one. I don’t care what it is. Create one if you have to.

Point is, while in college, venture out of your comfort zone. Pick up a new hobby that you enjoy doing. Learn a new skill that you’d never thought of learning before. Teach yourself how to acquire new skills quickly because in the workforce, the people who advance in their careers know how to do this. A lot.

3. Reconnect With Old Friends

Remember that guy you sat next to in seventh grade who you thought was a total nerd?

Yea, call him up. Facebook message him. Ask him how he’s doing.

Then, do the same for all your old contacts.

I’m pretty sure that it’s safe to say that by the time we enter college, we’ve lost touch with most of our elementary and middle school friends. We may have even lost touch with our friends from our freshman year in high school.

One of the best ways that you can prepare for your career while in college is to work on building your network. The more people you know, the better. Yes, I’m sorry, most of the time, it’s about who you know. So know a lot of people.

Cultivate meaningful relationships because you never know who or what you’re going to need in the future.

Oh, and that nerd you sat next to? He might be kind of hot now.

4. Date 

Date a lot.

“Oh, but I don’t have time to date because I need to be studying so that I can get a 4.0 GPA so I can get the best job when I graduate.”

Sorry, I don’t buy it.

Dating in college is just as important as studying for a test.

Before you think I’m completely crazy, hear me out.

When you date people, first of all, you get to know yourself. You get to know what you like, what you don’t like, what interests you, and what doesn’t.

But most importantly, dating teaches you that sometimes things don’t work out.

I mean, sometimes you date someone for a while and then you realize that they aren’t the right fit. So you break up.

And it’s hard and it’s devastating and you cry.

Then you get back together for a day. Then you break up again and you cry some more.

But you know what? This is kind of a good thing.

Because the more comfortable you become with recognizing what works for you and what doesn’t, the easier it’ll  be for you to find your dream job.

Why?

Because jobs are like boyfriends and girlfriends.

And you should never settle.

5. Become Friends with a Weirdo 

Yes, we all know someone or some people who we consider to be weirdos.

GO BE FRIENDS WITH THEM!!

It’s imperative that we learn early on in life how to interact with people who aren’t like us.

For instance, I grew up attending private Catholic school and I’ll never forget that day, during my first year at work, when I was setting up the Christmas tree in the office.

One of my co-workers mentioned that she didn’t celebrate Christmas.

Whaaaaat?

Who doesn’t celebrate Christmas?

What kind of grinch is she?

Oh, she’s Jewish.

Epic fail.

A lot of times we forget that people are different from us. People think differently, they have different views, and they have different interests.

And that’s okay!

But the thing is that we’re not used to that. We’re used to surrounding ourselves with people just like us.

To prepare for your career, learn how to socialize with people that you wouldn’t usually associate with. It’s a great skill to have.

Because I promise you, in your career, you won’t get to pick the people you work with and the better you are at interacting with diverse personalities, the more successful you will be.

So just do yourself a favor and spend some time in college NOT stressing about studying and going to career fairs. Instead, learn a little bit more about yourself, other people, and the world around you. Those lessons are far more valuable.

A much better return on investment.

7 Things I Learned About Work and Life After Years of Hating Sports

5 Sep

Approximately 27 million.

That’s how many people are playing fantasy football.

And so it begins…

Football season.

Here’s something you should know about me:

For years and years and years, I HATED sports.

I mean, really, I detested them.

Perhaps it was because one of my ex boyfriends left me after high school to go play basketball.

Or, maybe it has something to do with the fact that I can’t understand how athletes make bazillions of dollars and teachers make pennies.

Maybe it’s always been a little bit of both.

Regardless, every year as all of my friends indulge in the craziness surrounding their favorite sports teams, I’ve always sat around watching everyone drink beer, kind of scratching my head, wondering what the big fuss is about.

I just never understood.

But as I entered the workforce, I began to see parallels between the world of sports and organizational structure.

So here’s why I can now say that I LIKE sports.

I don’t LOVE them yet, but I like them.

Because through sports, we learn lessons about life and work, and they’re important.

1. Sports teach us about competition

Competition is the key to success and ensures that we continue striving for excellence. No team likes to lose. They don’t. Therefore, in order to win, they have to play their best. Whether you’re competing for a spot at an Ivy League school or for that kick ass job you applied for, if you want to win, you have to be better than your competition. Same applies to any company. You want business? You want clients? Then you need to be better than your competitors. You need to be committed to learning and growing and perfecting your skills so that your competition doesn’t even stand a chance.

2. Sports remind us of the importance of succession plans

There are always going to be stars. We’ve got Lebron James and well…I don’t know that many sports players other than Tim Tebow and…um…okay…Dan Marino and…um…all the Alabama football players that my boyfriend’s always talking about, but the point is that while they’re on the team, the team dominates. The team does well. They win their trophies. Everybody cheers. Everyone is happy. But what happens when these star players no longer play? What happens when they get hurt or they retire or they go play for another team? More often than not, the team’s performance suffers.

Just like sports teams recruit new players by watching college games, eyeing prospective future players, companies should be doing the same, recruiting talent for the future. That way, when their current stars no longer work for them, they’ll have great new talent and their team’s performance won’t suffer.

3. Sports show us that if you put in work, you get results 

It’s not that complicated. If you work hard, you’ll see results. If you’re out practicing on the field, more often than not, you’re going to perform a lot better than that player that never attends practice and thinks that he can just show up the day of the game and be awesome. Nothing in life that’s good comes easily. I don’t care how corny that sounds. It’s true. If you put in effort, if you dedicate yourself to continuous improvement, you will ALWAYS be better off than you were before. Be it your job, your relationship, those six pack abs that you’re dying to have, if you want to achieve great results, you need to put in the time and energy. Great companies understand this and know that to achieve success, they need to have employees that are committed to nothing less than that and therefore, they facilitate an environment that encourages continuous learning and improvement.

4. Sports create team players 

There’s no I in team…blah…blah…blah…you’ve heard it a million times. But it’s as true for an organization as it is for any sports team. Organizations need to have teams that work well together and know how to play on each other’s strengths in order to win.

5. Sports give us a sense of hope and are a source of inspiration

There are a lot of bad things going on in the world, a lot of unfair things happening on a daily basis. But it’s nice that for a few short hours, while people sit in front of the t.v. shotgunning beers, people have something else to think about. We love to root for the underdog. We watch sports movies about the team that never could have won, but did. They remind us that regardless of how bad a situation is, things can be better. That if we believe that we can do things, we can surprise ourselves and everyone else with how far we get. People want to be inspired. They want to have something to believe in. We want to know that even if our team went 0 and 500 last year, with the right coaching, the right players, and the right attitude, we can turn it around and go undefeated. Sports do that for us, and I love that.

6. Sports create for us a sense of belonging

People want to belong to something. People want to be a part of something much bigger than themselves. 22 year old Marina Keegan, a Yale student,  wrote a beautiful essay about just this, right before she died in a tragic accident. Here she writes as she dwells upon graduation:

Yale is full of tiny circles we pull around ourselves. A cappella groups, sports teams, houses, societies, clubs. These tiny groups that make us feel loved and safe and part of something even on our loneliest nights when we stumble home to our computers — partner-less, tired, awake. We won’t have those next year. We won’t live on the same block as all our friends. We won’t have a bunch of group-texts.

This scares me. More than finding the right job or city or spouse – I’m scared of losing this web we’re in. This elusive, indefinable, opposite of loneliness. This feeling I feel right now.

We want to belong to something. Especially us Millennials, just entering the workforce, who have just been ripped apart, as Keegan says, from all the “tiny circles we pull around ourselves.” Those circles define us. They’re how we define ourselves. When we cheer for a particular team, we belong to that group of people who cheer for them as well. And just like that, we belong to something. We’re Dolphins fans…we’re Patriots fans…we’re Auburn fans (just kidding, babe). We cheer together. We cry together. We throw the remote control at the t.v. when we’re down together.

For that same reason, companies need to focus on building their brand and cultivating a positive culture within their organization. They should want their employees to feel that they belong to something much bigger. They should want their employees to feel that they’re part of the team. That way, they cheer when the organization is doing well and they work harder than ever when they’re down because their goal is to see their team win. Because they don’t want to belong to something that loses.

7. If nothing else, sports give us something to talk about at work 

Yes. It’s true.

So there you have it. Those are seven reasons why I can no longer say that I hate sports.

I’m sure there are other reasons, like this…

There. I officially LOVE sports. I said it. Thank you, Mr. Beckham.

And so that my man doesn’t kill me, ROLL TIDE, everyone!

Other stuff you might like:

Why Companies Are Using Gen Y and Embracing the Blogosphere

Companies Need to Make it Easier for Gen Y to Job-Hop

Invest in Young Talent, It’s Worth It

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