You and I are on the cusp of starting our careers. Congratulations! We’ve made it through years of learning and have all the skills we need to be #1 in the workforce. Right?
Not quite. We are missing one crucial thing: experience.
As young people, we often underestimate the true value of being in the workforce for many years. We come in with our bright eyes and fresh ideas, and feel entitled to influence the workplace with a mentality of “out with the old ideas, in with the new ideas.” This can often be perceived like the Tasmanian Devil, spinning with wild eyes, and blazing a trail toward our goal, while creating a mess in our following.
Recently, I had the privilege of hearing Stephanie Minna Cass speak to my Public Relations class. Stephanie currently works as the Corporate and Government Affairs Lead for Mondelēz Canada, the company responsible for many house-hold brands such as Cadbury, Trident, Chips Ahoy!, Dentyne, Halls, Oreos, Ritz and more.
As someone who has been in the “real world” for over 15 years, she has valuable wisdom to pass on. Along with many more pieces of wisdom, she passed on these 5 very important pieces of advice.
1. Be a Sponge
Soak up all you can at every job. The people who have been working in your office for years have learned fistfuls of knowledge that they can pass to you. A huge turn-off to employers can be a sense of entitlement. Pop that entitlement balloon around your head and replace the air with wisdom from others.
Ask questions! Don’t pretend that you know everything. People actually like to tell you about how they achieved their success and help young people. Don’t be afraid to ask.
2. When presenting a problem, present 3 solutions.
Stephanie said that when many young employees are faced with a problem, they often present the problem to employers without offering solutions.
In Tina Fey’s hilarious, and often insightful book, Bossypants, she cites the importance of adding to the discussion by using the drama technique- improvisation:
In every situation, we must add an AND. For example, “Unfortunately, I accidentally lost our company $500 AND I have three possible solutions to make up for the loss.” By presenting a problem with solutions, the problem isn’t being dropped on top of your employers task pile for the day. We must always add to the conversation. Show that you can problem-solve by presenting 3 solutions to each problem you encounter.
3. R E S P E C T
Treat everyone with respect: the receptionist, the CEO, the custodian, the cook in the cafeteria, the gardener, your supervisor, your cubicle buddy, even your co-worker you don’t happen to like very much. Everyone has a role in an organization and everyone has value.
A great first step to respect is knowing people’s names.
Mindy Kaling, another funny lady, says in her book, Is Everyone Hanging out Without Me?,:
Simply knowing a person’s name makes people feel respected and valued.
4. Speak Up!
If you have an idea, speak up! Let people know who you are and that you can have smart, thoughtful ideas. But remain in the right spirit: be confident, not cocky.
5. Have fun!
Enjoy your job and have fun.