each day i get e-mails from linkedin about articles that might interest me professionally. today i clicked to read kathy caprino’s insight to the 7 negative behaviors of first-year professionals that limit their success. before you go any further in my post, take about four minutes to go read hers.
done reading it? excellent!
i myself was a first-year professional just about five years ago now. fresh out of college from the university of georgia, i had no idea what the real world held for me. i knew how to be polite, how to treat people more senior to me, and the basic do’s and don’t’s of professionalism. what i found was the case, though, was that i had to twist and turn to find my role in a place where i had no experience. luckily i came into an organization that was fairly small (only about 40 employees at the time) and was thrilled to get their hands on young, untapped brainpower.
our company continues to bring in recent university graduates, as our college-hire program has proven to be a wild success over the past seven years. we’ve created a place where younger minds can freely explore the different offerings in our workplace, truly promoting a “sky’s the limit” mentality. many of us are still here while others have gone on to pursue their passions in different positions.
this article piqued my interest mainly because i have had the chance to observe the first-years around me. after reading caprino’s article, i, a former first-year, can say she has literally hit the nail on the head. hm, how about that? i think it’s an interesting thing when someone with the first-year experience in the not-so-distant past has the self-awareness to say that these things about our generation are true. they may not be completely inclusive or applicable to all first-years, but to a very specific point, there is much to be gained from this insight.
the points that i see most around me and think are most detrimental are items 1, 2, and 5, all of which i feel go hand-in-hand with one another. it’s that word, that feeling of ‘entitlement’ that makes me go bonkers. you don’t even have to use that word for me to know that’s how you feel. so you passed some tests and think you deserve a raise? well, let me burst your sweet little bubble, darling: obtaining certifications is part of your job. yes, they make you more valuable to a degree, but can you prove that knowledge in a client-facing situation? i need you to show me your skills rather than talk about them, for what good is talk without the game to back it up?
we all have to start somewhere, and even though you may not like it, most organizations have some type of structure in place to define where you begin and where you can go. depending upon your experience, professional or educational, you have to do the work to earn the paycheck and, as applicable, the promotion that may come with it. proving this worth comes with its fair share of responsibility, much of which is out of your control at times. as they say, it’s not what happens to you, it’s how you respond to what happens to you that really defines your character. your character is largely affected by your work ethic, and if you don’t have that, then why should we keep you around?
now as for me? i don’t have a single person who reports to me. i’m a consultant and am not in a position of management, but i can tell you with certainty that if i notice any of these traits in you, then folks in upper-level positions are definitely aware of them as well.
i believe that the root of these traits is largely attributed in the way a person was raised, but that doesn’t mean i’m here to point out who was parented better. i’m here to say that if you read through these traits and feel any of them apply to you, perhaps it’s time to take a step back and ask yourself why. then, if you truly want to better yourself and the future of your career, do something about it. look at how other first-years behave and interact with others and then figure out if you yourself can mirror it. talk to successful people and ask them about their experiences as young professionals and why they believe they are excelling.
if you do the same thing you’ve always done, you’ll get the same thing you’ve always gotten. to further that point, you’ll also feel the same way you’ve always felt. self-improvement is a cross we carry all our own. it’s up to you if something changes.