8 Tips for Young Professionals Entering the Workforce

By Nicole Tinkham

If you’ve recently graduated (in any form or fashion of the word), you know what comes next: It’s time to find a job. It’s time to move up from the days of limited responsibility and step into a professional career. It’s time for you to officially become an adult. All of those things seem a little weighty, right? If you’re like most young adults joining the workforce, you’re probably weeding your way through a variety of thoughts and emotions. Am I ready? How do I create a budget? What in the heck is a 401k? What type of insurance is best? Will my education even help me in my career? What if I don’t like my job? Take a deep breath. It’s going to be ok. The weight that young professionals feel the day they graduate is hard to explain. One day you’re studying for a test and tailgating for a football game and the next day you’re making sales calls trying to reach your goal for the month. After all, if you don’t hit your goal, you don’t get the commission you need to pay your bills. Life as a young professional can be overwhelming, but we’re not here to discourage you, we want to offer you some advice as you take the next step on the journey of you life. Our team of 20-something’s here at Keeton’s came up with a list of tips for young professionals, and here is what they are:

1.    Know what the big picture looks like for you, but remain focused on the day at hand.

Starting a new job is usually both very exciting and unnerving at the same time. We all have ideas of where we’ll be going in life and how we think we can make a difference in the world.  Our encouragement for you is to do just that; DREAM BIG! Dream about what your ideal life looks and feels like. Take time to visualize it so you have something to keep you going on the days that you feel like you’re stuck. Do whatever it takes every day to push yourself forward into the future that you desire. But, don’t forsake the present. Don’t allow yourself to become so consumed with where you’ll be one day that you completely miss out on who you’re becoming today. We’re not promised tomorrow, so don’t waste your time worrying about what will or will not be. Stay present in today, learn to embrace each day to grow, and always have a goal of what you want for your future.

2.    Be patient. It’s OK to start small.

For some reason, a lot of young professionals enter the workforce and expect to jump into their dream job immediately. If that is how it worked out for you, we congratulate you! For those who weren’t fortunate enough to be in that boat straight out of college, this blurb is for you.  It’s important to understand that although your first ‘real’ job might not be what you had in mind, it is a great starting point. If there is one thing we’ve learned about being in the work force, it’s this: experience is the greatest teacher. If you’re willing to learn from the process of life, the failures and mistakes you make along the way, the setbacks, the delays, the victories, and even the disappointments, you’ll find that all of these things have actually been stepping stones that take you to where you’ve always wanted to go. Opportunity is out there, but sometimes you just have to face the reality of starting off small. Make the most of your time here, prove that you can achieve great things, show what you can accomplish, and take action. Moving up takes time. Be patient, it WILL happen if you put you decide to never give up no matter what happens.

3.    Learn from others and absorb as much information as you can.

NEWS FLASH: You don’t know everything! Contrary to what you thought in high school, you aren’t as smart as you think you are. If you expect to go into a new job and have the answers to everything, you’re going to be highly disappointed in yourself.  You might be a bright person and know what you’re doing, but every company is run differently. No matter how long you’ve been in the industry there’s always something to learn at a new company. Secondly, there are going to be people who are much wiser (and older) than you at your new job. For the love of God, don’t go around telling people how much you know, acting like you’re the best thing since sliced bread. You’ll lose the respect of people in your workplace and they won’t want to work with you. Instead, be humble, open and willing to learn as much as you can from the people you work with. Knowledge is power, but applied knowledge is even more powerful!

4.    Don’t let others get you down.

Starting a new job is like beginning a new dating relationship. As you begin, you’ll spend the first few months getting to know each other, figuring out all the quirks you both have, and learning how to operate in harmony.  And like any relationship goes (or life in general), you should always remain true to who you are in it. There will be times when long standing employees don’t like the way you do things, the passion that you live with, or the vision you have for the future. It’s important to understand that many people respond to change differently. One of the most powerful things you can do is to learn to respect and work in harmony with your coworkers, even in the middle of disagreements! When someone new comes in and starts shaking things up with progressive ideas or questions why things ‘have always been this way’, you’re going to get some backlash. Don’t let the negative opinions of others distract you from bringing your ‘A’ game to the table each and every day.  Ignore your critics, forgive them, and continue to inspire others!

5.    Speak up!
Companies constantly need fresh new thoughts and ideas to improve the way things are done and drive them forward. YOU can be the person that changes everything for the company. Don’t be afraid to speak up when you have brilliant ideas. This shows your interest in the company and your dedication to helping it grow. This could be the thing that sets you apart from the others and pushes you even closer to your true passion.

6.    Mistakes are OK.

There will be days you thrive and days you struggle to stay alive. Mistakes, especially when starting something new, will most definitely happen. And they will continue to happen throughout your career and life in general. Here’s the trick to dealing with them: Understand that everyone makes them. You’re human and you’ll make them too. Accept it and move on and know that PERFECTION IS OVERRATED. Think about how you can learn from each and every mistake. They’re like the price you to pay for expanding your knowledge and growing as a person.

7.    Be true to yourself and follow your passion.

Jobs will come and go. Even careers will change. But no matter where you end up in life, you must be true to yourself. Ask yourself this: What’s one thing that’s most important to you? This is the thing you can’t live without. The thing you spend all of your time thinking about. This is known as your number one priority. Before any big life change you must consider your priority. No matter how sweet the promotion or new job is, if it doesn’t accommodate your number one priority, you won’t be happy.

8.    Go with your gut  

Starting at a new job can be pretty stressful. Some jobs will be your ideal fit, others will serve as a great stepping stone to help you move forward with your career, and some will end up being terrible for you. We suggest going with your gut instinct here. Feel the company out, consider their company culture, and ask about where they’re heading in the future. Would you “fit in” here? We’ve all jumped at a job opportunity that just wasn’t a good fit, so if you’re in that position now, remember the positives of making a mistake. It’s just part of your journey!

We hope that you found some encouragement and inspiration through our blog as you begin to take steps to enter into the marketplace. Chances are you’re not going to have it all together as you begin your professional career. We’re here to tell you that it’s perfectly ok. You will never be perfect in all that you do, so just make a decision to give it your absolute best every single day and decide to never give up on your dreams. The world needs more dreamers. The world needs you! If you’re entering into the marketplace as a recent graduate, there are many tools at your disposal that will help find a great job. We came in contact with TheLadders and love that they match you up with your ideal job. It isn’t just a random listing either, they actually take your resume and qualifications into consideration when pairing you up with your ideal job.

If there’s one thing you can take away from this post it’s to be yourself. You know what you want and now’s the time to go after it! Have your goals set, your priorities straight, fresh ideas ready to go, and the urge to learn. Don’t let anyone put you down. Keep your head up when mistakes happen and remember to continuously learn from them. You’re now embarking upon this amazing professional journey. Have fun and enjoy the ride.

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