Tag Archives: young

In A Super Negative World, Challenge Yourself to Stay Positive

10 Sep

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Today’s guest post was written by Colleen Garvin. She’s really quite wonderful and her message is a great one: all this negativity….it’s killing us. So let’s try to look on the bright side. Let’s try to be optimistic, and make a difference at work. Because doing anything other than that, is kind of terrible. Enjoy!

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“I’ve been here for a decade”

“We’ve tried that before”

 “Oh just wait, you’ll become jaded”

“That’s cute… how optimistic you are..”

“That’s what we did and it didn’t work so we can’t try that again”

 “That’s the future, that’s not now”

 “We don’t want to be overly ambitious”

OR

“Push through it!”

“Don’t give in to the drama”

“Work your ass off and you will see results”

“If you don’t like something, change it!”

“If it didn’t work before, learn from the mistake and take a new approach”

 “Everything can be improved, including yourself”

Welcome to the professional world of an individual born in the late 80’s!

1988 to be exact. I am one of those people who was definitely over extended in my collegiate career and wanted to make sure I was doing everything correctly. I graduated in 4 years exactly after being in charge of two major college groups and was immediately placed in a corporate position. I was given more projects than my pay grade simply because I wanted them; I asked for them. The worst thing you can do is bore me.

You know what I wasn’t expecting on those collegiate evenings? A slew of negativity that would come from “experienced” workers. The quotes provided are real, legitimate things coworkers have said to me in meetings, one-on-one meetings, via email and on the phone over the past 3 years. I think there needs to be the same button that you have in Taboo, when you say the “no-no” words on the topic card? Someone says something to the effect of “we tried that before” and they should get buzzed. Unless you are going to say “we tried that before, here were our barriers, here is my idea how to move past them and make this approach successful”… save it! You are not adding anything to the table except negativity. Take your negativity and get to walking.

Don’t you remember your very first day at your “grown up job”? You were excited and optimistic.

You didn’t know about the drama…you didn’t know that your coworkers would end up acting as mature as second graders.

It’s important.. correction… IMPERATIVE…to foster that newness… that bright-eyed-bushy-tailed feeling from the day you had your I.D. badge picture taken.

It’s easier said than done. The more you’re exposed to negativity, the more your optimism shield may start to disintegrate.

There’s one thing to really keep in mind: you’re allowed to have a bad day.  Unless you’re a super hero, you’re not going to save the world every single day. However, you’ll have moments of greatness that’ll get you through the other times where yes, you indeed need to spend 4 hours [insert mind numbing topic here].

Regardless of how terrible your situation, challenge yourself to stay positive.

When someone starts to complain about corporate life or about, in my world, doctors, listen… but don’t commiserate with them. Let them vent, some people (including you) need that occasionally. The tactic that works better than simply adding to the list of “things at work that piss me off,” is to listen, empathize and maybe offer some advice. That way your coworker is able to let out their frustrations as well as find some clarity.

Never let anyone tell you to not be ambitious, always be ambitious. If you fail, you learn. If you do fail, try to figure out why something failed and maybe come up with a few ideas to make it better the next time.

If not, 20 years from now you’ll be sitting in a board room and a 20 something with a fresh I.D. badge will start to say that they want to start a project and your response will be… “We tried that before.”

Then, your 20 something self will want to kick you in the ass.

So what’s the point here?

Foster the newness and continue on the road of optimism. Your optimistic, 40-something year old self will appreciate that you started practicing that a long time ago.

Colleen Garvin is a 25 year old manager, working at a Children’s Hospital in Quality Improvement. Her coworkers like to remind her that they have children her age and older! She’s learned that age discrimination is definitely something most recent-grads will face…but she’s certainly dealing with it well. Follow her on Twitter @ColGarv.

Guest Post: No, I’m Not a Student- On Being Taken Seriously at Work as a Young Professional

19 Aug

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Today’s Guest Post was written by Kelly Konevich. As a young career counselor, she’s encountered some older workers who…well…think she looks like a baby. And as a result, they often question whether or not she’s capable of doing her job. So in today’s post, Kelly offers a bit of advice on getting others to take you seriously…despite your Gen Y status.

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I’ve never been much of a suit kind of gal, and as somebody who works in higher education, unless I become a dean (someday…), it is not expected that I’ll ever really have to be, aside from the occasional employer meeting or as a conference attendee.  Although I do believe in the mantra “dress for the job you want, not the job you have” I tend to prefer bright colors, blouses and ballet flats to suit jackets, button ups and heels. But I’m sure to always present myself in a professional and appropriate manner.

As Gen Y’s, we are often accused of being too casual both in attitude and in dress, and although I’m not rolling into work in my wet bathing suit, I noticed that some faculty, students (more so alumni) and staff were always surprised when they met me for the first time, “nice to meet you, gosh, you look like you could be a student!”  Thank you for the compliment (?), but I’m not.  After checking with my supervisor and confirming that I was, indeed, dressed professionally and appropriately for my office, I began to wonder if other younger professionals were getting similar responses.

The answer was an overwhelming, “yes!”  One friend of mine who works in finance said that her credibility is often questioned by older clients, and another colleague in education confessed that some parents question her experience.  As Gen Y’s we’re new(ish) to the workplace, but if we were hired, that means we’re fit for the position.  I’ve come up with these 3 tactics to crush the credibility doubters:

1. This goes without saying but, dress like a pro.  Take a look around your office and those who are in positions you’d eventually like to be in and see what they’re wearing. Copy them (assuming it’s appropriate).  Although I would stick out like a sore thumb in my office if I wore a suit, I always make sure I look put together and professional, and when I’m teaching or meeting with an older colleague, I kick it up a notch and throw on a blazer and some nice shoes (guys: just have a tie in your office).

2. Know when to speak up/know when to shut up.  If you’re extroverted (like me), you may find yourself chomping at the bit to give your opinion at staff meetings. I know with myself, it is uncomfortable and even a struggle to not speak up.  Make sure what you have to say is thoughtful and warranted.  Ask yourself, “Can I rationally back up my opinion?  How will this better my department?”  If you can articulate both those question, then speak up.  Similarly, if speaking up makes you uncomfortable, in the words of Sheryl Sandberg, Lean In!  You were hired because your manager believes you have something to contribute.  It is natural for you to be uncomfortable, but recognize the only way people are going to hear your ideas, is if you put them on the table.

3. If you don’t know the answer, admit it and then seek it out.  I work with a wide variety of clients ranging from undergraduates and Ph.D. candidates to alums.  I am a self-proclaimed generalist, not an expert in any industry.  When working with a client or asked a question in a class I can’t answer, I answer honestly, “that’s a great question, I am not sure, but I will find out for you and get you that information.”  Nobody likes a know-it-all and I certainly don’t know what kinds of job searching databases, if any, are out there for biophysicists, but I can certainly ask around, find out and get back to you.  People appreciate honesty, it gives you credibility.

Kelly Konevich is a twenty-something Bostonian attempting to balance work and play in a traditional college town.  Career Advisor at Northeastern University, social media enthusiast and glitter aficionado. Follow her on Twitter @kellydscott4.

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Procrastination In Our Twenties & Why We Need To End It

27 Jun
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I save EVERYTHING for the last possible minute.
 
And so the award for world’s biggest procrastinator goes to…ME!
 
It’s a terrible habbit, I know.
 
But I’ve been doing a lot of thinking lately, and I’ve come to the conclusion that we’re all kind of procrastinators. It almost seems as if society’s making the very act of procrastination quite acceptable.
 
Especially for us twenty-somethings.
 
We’re told a lie repeatedly…here it goes…
 
There’s plenty of time!  Don’t be in a rush!
 
We’re in our twenties…we have our whole lives ahead of us…no need to be in a hurry.
 
But here’s the thing…
 
When we think that we have plenty of time, we tend to do nothing.
 
Think about it…when we know that we have a week before that paper is due, we sit at home watching 100 episodes of How I Met Your Mother. Imagine what happens when whe think that we have our WHOLE LIVES to do something, with no deadline in sight. At what point do we actually get up and write that paper? At what point do we actually start?
 
Think about all the ideas you’ve ever had.
 
How many of them have you actually made happen?
 
When I graduated college, I had so many dreams. I had so many ideas.
 
 I had so much that I wanted to accomplish.
 
And even today, there are still so many things that I say I want to do.
 
Write a book.
 
Take a month-long vacation to Europe.
 
Change careers.
 
But for how long have I been saying that I want to do these things?
 
For a LONG TIME.
 
And yet, nothing’s happened.
 
Because I keep convincing myself that I have my whole life to do these things.  
 
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So at what point do we stop with all the talk and actually make things happen?
 
I really hope it’s soon.
 
Meg Jay, author of The Defining Decade, argues the same principle in her book, which I highly recommend to anyone in their twenties. Basically, she argues that people in their twenties have been convinced by society that it’s okay to delay adulthood. 30 is the new 20! 40 is the new 30! So does that mean that we get an extra 10 years to do nothing? Because I’m not a fan of that.
 
We’ve been programed to think that we don’t have to make decisions. Not now, at least. We don’t have to start thinking about marriage. We don’t have to start thinking about a serious career. We don’t have to start thinking about buying a house. And why? Because we have our whole lives to think about those things!
 
Well, how about we actually start living our lives? How about we actually start making decisions?
 
How about we actually start making things happen?
 
Because yes, it’s a lot easier to procrastinate.
 
It’s a lot easier to relax, and watch How I Met Your Mother.
 
But if you don’t start making moves now, you’re going to regret it later.
 
You’ll wake up 10 years from now and you’ll realize that all those things you wanted to do…you haven’t done them.
 
And that trip you wanted to take… you haven’t taken it.
 
And you’ll be sad.
 
Because you’ll feel like you’ve wasted a whole lot of time.
 
Then, you’ll get discouraged.
 
Then slowly, and sometimes even without realizing it, you’ll give up on your dreams.
 
Then slowly, you’ll accept that you never accomplished those things that you once wanted so badly.
 
So let’s not let that happen.
 
Stop procrastinating, and get to it.
  
Those things that you want, you can have them.
 
What’s stopping you?
 
makethingshappen

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Being Human in the Workplace: Why It’s Okay To Tell People You Ripped Your Pants

15 May

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I have a big problem with the workplace. Well, I have A LOT of problems with the workplace, actually, but this happens to be rather high on my list.

I guess I’m sort of a creeper, to a certain extent, because I observe people all the time. That’s my thing.

I watch and I listen and I realize how ridiculously crazy people are most of the time while they’re at work.

A lot of people tend to feel that they need to put on some kind of front while at work…they can’t be themselves. Instead, they have to be perfect. ALWAYS.

So they put on their suits and they cary their briefcases and they walk from meeting to meeting, focusing on numbers and on the latest budget reports. They’re serious all the time. They can’t laugh, they can’t joke. Because that would make them unprofessional.

Now, I get that people have to work. I also understand that we have to focus on numbers and on budgets and reports.

But in doing so, we can’t forget there’s also a human side to work. Work isn’t just numbers. Work isn’t just reports. Work isn’t just about the bottom line.

Work is also about human relationships. Work is about BUILDING those human relationships.

Because without those relationships, work is not possible.

It’s okay to show that human side of yourself while you’re at work. It’s okay to have a personality. It’s okay to be nice to people.

We’re not robots.

And honestly, I’ve found that when you share that human side of yourself with others, people are more receptive towards you. People like you more because you’re honest. You’re silly. You’re NOT perfect. You’re just like everyone else. You’re human.

A little crazy. A little messed up. A little not-so-put-together.

So don’t be afraid to open up every once in a while.

For example, I was running into work not too long ago wearing my not-so-hemmed pants which I have to wear my 5 inch heels with. And so I decide to take the elevator to prevent myself from falling flat on my face. So what happened?  I got off the elevator, took 4 steps, my heel got stuck in a crack on the floor, and I fell. On my face. The best part was…I didn’t just fall, I also ripped my pants. Big time.

So I got up, continued walking to my office, and when people greeted me with the usual, “Good Morning! How are you?” my response to them was NOT, “Fine, thanks.”

Instead, it was more like “Wonderful, thanks, I ripped my pants! Isn’t that great?”

And you know what?  People didn’t look at me and scold me for being honest. Instead, they laughed and some of them even shared with me their own embarrassing stories.

So my point is, don’t be the kind of person at work who has the personality of a tree. Be true to who you are, don’t put on a front, and you’ll be much more likely to build those human relationships which are essential to career success.

PLUS… you’ll be wayyyy cooler in my book.

Respect and Gen Y: What’s Age Got To Do With It?

26 Feb

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I’m working on an exciting new project. It’s awesome, really, because I get to do something that I love.

I get to teach college students about leadership and about success at work.

Yes, I’m currently in the midst of trying to be productive…even though this is me on most days…

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Alright… so in an effort to find the right topics to discuss and the right stories to share with these students, I’ve had to reflect a lot on my experiences in the workplace.

And well…that hasn’t been fun.

It hasn’t been fun because I’ve realized something.

I’ve realized that although there are a lot of things that I can teach these students, there’s no way that I can control the hardships that they’ll continue to face as young professionals.

There’s no way that I’ll be able to rid them of the label that they’ll often be given:

YOUNG & INEXPERIENCED.

This makes me mad.

You know, I once went on a job interview and overall, it was a great experience.

The people were friendly and made me feel comfortable…something a bit rare for an interview. I was actually having a good time.

Until I wasn’t.

I was totally bothered by something that one of the men who was interviewing me asked.

He said, “I’m going to ask you something…you look very young…how are you going to handle yourself when an executive or a senior employee needs something resolved and doesn’t want to talk to you because you look so young?”

Yes. I was really supposed to answer that.

Now, don’t get me wrong…the man who asked me the question was a nice guy. I actually got a long with him very well and so I know that he didn’t mean this question to be negative or to upset me.

But it did upset me because it made me realize that this is a very real problem.

When we talk about discrimination, stereotypes, diversity in the workplace, etc., we often tend to focus on race and ethnicity.

But what about age?

I mean, in that very same interview, would it have been okay for him to say, “you know…you look a bit Asian….how are you going to handle yourself when an executive or a senior employee needs something and doesn’t want to talk to you because you’re Asian?”

No. Absolutely not. That would absolutely NOT have been okay.

So why is it okay that he asked about age?

Why is it okay for young professionals to receive less respect than we deserve?

Think about it.

So many of us are intelligent. So many of us are driven. So many of us are talented and determined and hungry for the opportunity to make a difference.

Sure, we don’t know everything. No one does. And yes, we have a lot to learn.

But we need people who will teach us and who will treat us as equals.

Not people who feel that we’re beneath them.

Because at the end of the day, we all have a lot to learn from eachother.

So when I think about these students that I’ll  be advising, I hate that I won’t be able to force others to fully see their value. I hate that I won’t be able to delete that label that many of them will get stuck with.

But I CAN make sure that they understand the following…

Each of us…we get the respect that we demand.

Simple as that.

Just because we’re young doesn’t mean that we’re not good at what we do. Skill and ability are not necessarily determined by age.

Experience, not age, is what leads to wisdom.

And sometimes people forget this.

So young professionals…

Demand that respect. Demand that equality.

Don’t let people underestimate your abilities and your talents.

And when they do, prove them wrong.

Don’t let people be mean to you just because they think that they can.

Know your worth.

Be professional.

Do good work.

And always make sure to stand up for yourself.

Because if you don’t demand that respect for yourself, no one else will.

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Being Overwhelmed Isn’t All That Bad

18 Dec

Canvas

I’m having a panic attack. Pretty sure that’s what this is.

I have a headache, I can’t focus, and I’m about seconds away from throwing my cat against the wall because he keeps climbing all over my keyboard as I type.

God, that’s annoying.

But anyway, I’ve got a lot on my mind.

I haven’t finished Christmas shopping. I have a meeting on Wednesday that I kind of need to be prepared for.

And oh, I’m leaving to North Carolina in less than 9 days.

SO. MUCH. TO. DO.

I nearly cringe when I see how long it’s been since I last wrote.

I’ve just been so busy with new ideas, new projects, finishing the semester at school, dealing with work, going to CrossFit, finding time to read all these books I keep ordering and when I really need some down-time, catching up on Justified with the man-friend.

People laugh at me all the time when I tell them about a new project I’m working on or some new venture I’m exploring.

They always ask me, “Don’t you think you’re going to be a bit overwhelmed by all that?”

Well, yea. I definitely will be.

But I love every second of it.

I love having a million things to do.

When I don’t have anything to do, I slip into some sort of mild weird depression thing where I contemplate my existence and cry to hipster music while snuggling with my cat.

Okay, it’s not THAT bad.

But still, I don’t like having NOTHING to do.

There’s nothing that makes me happier than trying new things and taking on new projects. Reading new books. Traveling to new places.

Without that, my life would suck. I’d be bored all the time.

I love the picture at the top of this post because it really describes how I feel about life.

I want to experience ALL of it. Not some watered-down version.

I don’t want a half-assed life.

I want it to be spectacular.

Because at the end of the day, life’s way too short to not live fully.

To not throw all the paint you can on that canvas.

There are WAY too many people who spend their days doing nothing. People with no passion.

And it really makes me sad.

Because really, what’s life without passion?

Pretty lame, if you ask me.

So if I have to endure a few more panic attacks, that’s fine.

I’ll learn to deal with them.

I’ll be known as that crazy chick who’s got so much going on she can’t even keep her head on straight.

But at least I’ll have done something.

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