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  • Linda R. Taliaferro

3 Keys for Young Professionals

Recently on the Being Brown Live podcast, I got to interview Kimberly B. Cummings, a career and leadership expert whose mission is to help women and people of color navigate the workplace and become industry leaders. Her company is called Manifest Yourself LLC, and I was so honored to speak to her. We had a great conversation, and I wanted to share a few key takeaways. Check out the full episode for the whole conversation.

Being a young professional is one of the most stressful times of a person’s career. You have limited skills, a lot on the line, and an eagerness to prove yourself lighting a fire under your feet. But for young employees, the risk of burning out is also high. That enthusiasm is a lit candle, and candles can shed light or start fires.

So if you’re young in your career, here are some key strategies that will help you make the most of your early years in your field.

Ask for Help

Kimberly told me an interesting anecdote about her work with young college students; she found that black and brown women were especially unlikely to come in to get career counselling. They would say that they “weren’t ready” to come get help yet, as if there was some task list that needed to be checked off before seeking guidance.

For young professionals, the same experience is often true, but there’s no set of boxes you need to check before you ask people for help. If you don’t know how to do something, there’s a good chance someone on your team does. Ask for help early and often.

Have Your Own Plan

Your company may offer career counselling, or you may have even been given a growth plan by your boss. These are great, and definitely take advantage of them, but remember that your company’s goal is to get you to stay with the company. It’s cheaper for them to grow an existing employee than to hire a new one. There’s nothing wrong with that in and of itself, but you should always have a goal for yourself that is not only connected to a company sponsored program. What’s your ten year goal? What do you need to do in the next 2 years to make progress towards that goal? Always keep an eye on a longer term vision, and have your own agenda.

Lead However You Can

Even if you don’t manage anyone, and even if your job title doesn’t have “manager” in it, you are constantly leading and demonstrating your skills in the workplace. Your boss hired you for a reason: you have expertise that they need. If they could have done your work themselves, they would have. So remember that even as an associate, you are still an important part of the team and you can show your excellence, leadership skills, and talent in a way that influences people. Take any opportunity to show up, stand tall, and lead without the job title.

Need help developing your long-term plans? Want ways to show up as a leader in your office? Let’s connect! Click here to put a one on one with me on your calendar

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