Last night Zak and I hosted a workshop on how young people can kick butt and gain influence in the workplace. We not only discussed how young employees can add value to their companies, but also how as a young employee you can get the most value out of your early career.
I’ve witnessed a lot of young people start a new job and completely focus on following their given job description word for word. This is not necessarily the worst thing in the world. You certainly should be focused on doing your specific job as well as you can and exceed expectations. However while entering the workforce full-time or starting that first internship, you should view your start to a professional career as a chance to explore what you do and perhaps more importantly what you don’t like.
This discovery process can take various forms. If you’re working in sales, offer the head of the marketing department additional support with social media engagement. Better yet, don’t ask someone’s permission. Identify opportunities for growth for your company and use your evenings and weekends to come up with a plan to capture that growth. Be able to identify opportunities and take advantage of them is the principle of entrepreneurship whether it involves starting a new business or working within an existing one.
In my first job out of college I did not focus on this nearly enough, but the opportunities I did take advantage of paid off. I was able to move into a position I had much more passion for and earn a promotion early in my career. more importantly, developing this vision over the last few years has helped me consistently move closer to doing work that I love.
If you’re early about to start that summer internship in a few months or about to leave college to enter the workforce full-time, don’t just fill your job description. Take advantage of new experiences and gain insight and skills that will help launch your professional life.