Being a young professional is one of the toughest times in your career to navigate. You’re not an intern, but you’re not really experienced. You’re not always the one listened to, but you have lots of ideas. You know what industry you want to be in, but you don’t know where you fit in yet. Additionally, you probably won’t receive as much feedback as you did when you were an intern and will have to do things independently.
Wow, that’s a lot to handle on your own! I’ve felt that energy and lived with that stress myself, so I want to pass along some things that I’ve learned from my experiences and talking with other YP’s.
You landed in the right town
Not only is Spartanburg the 8th fastest growing small metro in the US, it’s a place filled with warmth and support. Being a YP in this town is like getting a hug from your favorite coach. The same person who constantly pushes you to be better, shares a moment with you to let you know that you’re seen, heard, and appreciated.
There are strong support systems in place to help and connect you to other people living the same coffee stained lifestyle. Of course, I always recommend Spartanburg Young Professionals as a starting point! A couple of other programs to look into are Young Leaders through the United Way of the Piedmont, Leadership Spartanburg, Greenhouse Business Incubator, and the Junior League of Spartanburg.
Find a mentor
“Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn.” ― Benjamin Franklin
Finding a sounding board can be one of the most undervalued tools to success when starting your career. In the beginning, establishing lines of communication needs to be the focal point. Let your mentor know what you are hoping to get out of the mentorship. For example, if you’re looking for help balancing work and life commitments, let them know that is your specific goal.
When scheduling meetings or phone calls with them, you need to be the one to compromise. They are offering you free advice, the least you could do is try and work around their schedule. Make sure that you’re on time and prepared so that you can maximize your interaction. It also never hurts to do some research on your mentor. Not the creepy stalker kind, but a simple google search to see their work history or any news articles about their achievements. It gives you jumping off points in case of a slow conversation, but also shows the mentor that you are taking it seriously.
Lastly, it’s also never a bad idea to throw a free beverage or meal their way as a thanks. Whether it’s a coffee, burger, or ice cream, the offer will be appreciated.
Fill your free time
It’s any easy trap to fall into, we’ve all done it. You have your new job and you want to prove that you belong, not just to your colleagues but to yourself. You start working all of these extra hours and before you know it, you’ve ghosted your friends, you’re averaging 4 hours of sleep a night, and started living off of Hot Pockets and Mountain Dew. No, just me? I’m sure you’ve experienced a smidge of what I described and it’s detrimental to your physical and mental wellbeing.
As humans, we need social interaction to maintain cognitive balance. So, fill your free time with friends, food, and laughter. That’s why Spartanburg Young Professionals can be such a great resource. We hold social events for our members that allow you to meet all of those prerequisites, but also sneak in a bit of career education so it feels like you are scratching that itch too. It’s the best of both worlds!
Other great things to do to fill your time while still helping your career include:
- Listen to Podcasts! Personally, I have a 30-minute commute to work. That gives me an hour of time to listen to a variety of topics and opinions that bring about new ideas or start conversations with friends and family. With so many options available, browse around and try a couple until you find a few that are not just entertaining, but educational.
- Work out in a group! There are so many classes now like yoga, Crossfit or even our local CycleBar. Exercising in general will always be a great way to shred stress or help prevent any health issues that arise from sitting in an office all day. When you do it with a group, you have a team of supportive people to push you to new limits.
- Try something that scares you! I’m not saying to jump out of a plane, unless you REALLY want to push it. I’m meaning to try a new skill or volunteering with a group where you don’t know anyone. Just because we’re done with school, doesn’t mean we need to stop learning. You never know what new skill could lead to finding your undiscovered passion or even future job opportunities.
As Spartanburg Young Professionals and the Spartanburg Herald Journal are about to recognize the inaugural class of Spartanburg County’s Forty Under 40 on March 23rd, it’s a great reminder of how many of us there are. We represent such a positive part of this community and we just need to remember that we work best when we work together. If we keep leaning on each other, there is nothing but great things ahead.