Monday, December 28, 2015

11 Pieces of Career Advice from a Millennial

December 30th will be my 2 year anniversary entering the work force post college. Since then, I’ve worked at 3 different jobs and 3 different clients. I’ve worked client side and services side. I’ve interviewed at countless places, and have negotiated a bunch offers. I’ve also been fortunate to work with people who have been great mentors to me. I’ve learned a ton in this short amount of time and I wanted to write them all down in this list-icle.

Know what you're worth and go out and get it. I was underpaid at my first job at the ad agency. I was fresh out of college with no experience outside of my internships. It was a fantastic job, good people, good benefits, fun clients. It was an almost-perfect job, except for the pay. Leaving it was scary, but I was able to get a 25% pay increase and a promotion in doing so, which set me on the path to maintain that level of income.

Never take a job for the money. No explanation here - if you take a job for the money, but hate any part of the role, you’ll hate going to work, no matter what.

Ask lots of questions. Don't worry about being annoying, you're just trying to do your job well. When I was an intern, I hesitated to ask for help. I wanted to figure things out on my own, and I didn’t want to be annoying as a young student out of her element. But I started to tell myself “I’m just trying to do my job” before I hit send on any email that asked a “dumb” question. At the end of the day, you’ll save everyone a lot of headache if you ask a lot of questions early on.

Leave a job when you've stopped learning. This piece of advice is from my manager at my first internship. When you’ve stopped learning new things in your role, and you don’t have any more room to grow at your job, then it’s time to leave. If you’re coasting at work, seek out new challenges, ask for more work. If there isn’t anything more for you to do, or your manager balks - time for a new challenge elsewhere.

Always be uncomfortable. Surround yourself with people smarter than you. Seek out A players. It's okay to feel like you're two steps behind, to feel like you’re the dumbest person in the room. This applies to finding a job as well. Job postings are often self selecting. If you see a job you want, but don’t think you’re ready for, or you don’t meet all the requirements - apply to it anyway! You’ll learn on the job and grow into it.

Never accept a first offer. Negotiate everything. Salary, signing bonus, vacation, perks. It doesn't hurt to ask. I always regret not negotiating my first job’s offer. I thought that I couldn’t because I had no experience. When I started, I realized that one of my coworkers did, from the same no-experience position as me. Women are more likely to not ask, so if you’re a woman reading this, ask!

Learn how to work with your manager. This will be your most important relationship at work, so develop it. Learn how they like to communicate. What do they want to accomplish? How can you help? Are they hands on, hands off? Part of this too is learning how you yourself like to work. Do you like a boss that is more hands on? If you both are opposites, sit down and set expectations. Find a way to compromise so you both are happy. Ultimately, they’ll be the keys to the rest of your career at the company, and your advocate during promotions/raises/etc.

Always leave work feeling like you were productive that day. I start my day writing down 3 things I need to accomplish by end of day to have been 'productive'.

Don’t take yourself too seriously. I’m usually the youngest person in the room, and I sometimes feel like I have to prove myself. At the end of the day, it’s just a job! I constantly have to remind myself to not give af, especially when things get stressful. Actively think good thoughts and have a positive attitude.

Don't apologize or undermine yourself. Trust your knowledge and support with data and facts. You know what you know, so stick to your guns whether you're the youngest in the room, the girl, the newbie to the industry.

Always be looking for a new job. I get an email sent to me every week with job postings that I might be interested in. I also keep in touch with my analytics recruiters, and they send me jobs every so often that they think might be a good fit. It’s not that I’m disloyal to my current job. It’s more along the lines of always knowing what else is out there. It’s also handy for colleagues and friends in the industry that might be looking for a new job. And, you’ll never know if your dream job suddenly pops up.
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