Secrets Of Young Professionals: 6 Ways To Find Your Path To Success Post-College

by Brendan Marshall

College life is fun, there is no denying that. Many would argue that ages 18 to 22 are the best years life has to offer, and it is not uncommon to see individuals peak during that time. My condolences to anyone whom your mind conjures up while reading that sentence.

When the ink on your shiny, new diploma dries, this is where the real education begins. Post-graduate life is not easy, and the collegiate experience can only do so much to prepare for what is to come.

Life as a young professional, or “Yo-Pro” as it is often shortened, is a time for continued growth, trial and error. The newfound independence that accompanies graduation is both exhilarating and terrifying.

I have had the pleasure of experiencing this roller coaster period of life for five years now and would be hard-pressed to trade any lessons that have come along the way.

I hope the following paragraphs shed some light on the do’s and don’ts of early post-grad life for those unsure of what lies ahead or how to react to certain situations.

There are simple habits conducive to development that are easily missed along the way. A basic understanding and awareness applied daily could make all the difference later down the line.

It is important to remember that your future self will look back, appreciative of all the moves made during these formative years.

Be assertive

A piece of advice fit for a commencement speech is simply to knock your first impression out of the park. A job fresh out of college allows for a certain recklessness fueled by inexperience.

No one is going to raise an eyebrow at a new hire who over-asserts herself in a productive or outgoing way (and anyone who does has their own issues). Introduce yourself to the office partner or CEO and volunteer for work even if you haven’t a clue where to begin. Take a chance, figure it out.

A formal education generates perceived workplace value, opening the door to a certain job opportunity, and it is your goal to increase that value daily.  Shyness is only best backed up by stellar production elsewhere.

Let the little things add up

Large victories are a surefire way to raise office morale instantly. Money talks and at the end of the day we need to out produce the competition.

What you will find is that for the first few years, contributing directly to those large victories might not come so easily. Only prodigies have the opportunity to cure cancer as soon as they put on the lab coat. It is smart to recognize and embrace all of those small assigned tasks. Developing a reputation for sound work early and learning from mistakes often will inevitably invite additional responsibility. The question is, do you have the wherewithal, foresight and patience to let those small victories add up?

Remain positive

Negative vibes are both palpable and contagious, especially in the workplace. Everyone is allowed bad days and even weeks, but if that behavior occurs often, expect an equal reaction. Bad moods, unexpected external influences, stress, worry and unfair circumstances are all common occurrences, but they are also temporary.

Do not let something that will pass with time get the best of what is in front of you. There is a job to be done and a negative mindset is never the right approach. Take a step back, enjoy some deep breaths and act like a pro.

A note about colleagues and bosses

Hierarchy exists for a reason. Those at the top have earned it, and most began with the raw flare that professionals in their 20s are supposed to possess. While it may be difficult to imagine yourself in their position one day, understand that it is possible and to a certain degree, expected.

People come and go and voids must be filled by the “next man up.”  The law of displacement always applies.

There will be people who require extra patience when it comes to establishing a productive, professional relationship. It is natural for human beings to conflict and not see eye-to-eye in trying to accomplish a common goal.

Do not lose your cool. “Play nice” is the simplest way to put it. This is surely something that, when consistently demonstrated, will pay off in the long run. Over time it will become a highly beneficial habit.

Keep an eye on the future

It is true that there is no time like the present. Some of the world’s best clichés are influenced by this idea.

Keeping what the future holds for you in the back of your mind is also important. This is not to say that it is controllable, predictable or that everything is going to be fine, but each decision made tends to shape where we end up.

Be forewarned: Appearing to have one foot out the door is a permanent mark. Likewise, going back to school is sometimes the easy way out. There is plenty of time to shape the future and it is always wise to expect the unexpected. Enjoy today but prepare for tomorrow. Hustle, but don't hurry.

Achieve balance

One of life’s greatest challenges is finding pleasure in every waking moment. Whether it is in generating an income, shaping your body, influencing minds or connecting with other people and pets, we crave pleasure as much as anything else.

Sacrifices are often made in order to accomplish professional goals, but do not lose sight of what remains of the 168 weekly hours not taken up by work and sleep.

Get involved in your community, develop a hobby, network or even escape. Without balance, we fall over, and only a select few achieve great things from their backs.

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