Young Professionals in an Old Professional’s World

Skylar Vukasin

In order to succeed in business you need to secure a well-paying job; in order to land a well-paying job you need experience; in order to gain experience, a company must take a chance and hire the young college graduate.  It’s an age-old dilemma, yet somehow college graduates still end up being turned down by employers because they want someone with experience. We’ve all heard or asked the question,  “how am I supposed to get experience if no one hires me?”  

We’ve all heard the success stories, the ones our professors tell us about where graduates with bachelor’s degrees land jobs with some of the top companies in the nation. We all have similar potential and the education to obtain these same internships that lead to those hired positions, but not all of us will because there are only a few positions offered and thousands of students applying for them.

So, what do the people who don’t get the Google, Nike, Deloitte or KPMG internships (the ones that lead to a future hire) do to be noticed, seen or to simply stand out? When GPA’s don’t seem to matter and you already have a LinkedIn bio to tell people why you’re a great hire, how can we be top-notch and different?

For those of us who didn’t get the foot-in-the-door job/internship, what can we do to stand out in a world where experience is still the primary driving factor behind a job offer? We still have to fight for our place in the conference room. We still have to prove to our superiors, colleagues and future employers that we’re not just another one of “those millennials”. You know the ones I’m talking about – the lazy, know-it-all, millennials that also have no work ethic. In order to avoid some of those stereotypes, here are some tips from my own experience, as well as some of my peers, on how to stand out.

  1. Dress for success. The ever-expanding tech and startup world may allow for a more relaxed and casual dress code, but many companies still want their employees to look and act professionally.  
  2. Be confident, but not a know-it-all. Just because you understand technology and the internet does not make you smarter or better than your colleagues.
  3. Don’t overstate your accomplishments. You know what you are and aren’t capable of. Don’t say you’re an experienced website designer just because you’ve logged into the backend of a website once or twice.
  4. Learn from your older colleagues – after all, it is experience we’re after and they have it.
  5. Teach your colleagues what you know about technology and new trends. The more they can know and learn from you, the more they’ll trust and respect you.
  6. Challenge yourself. There’s a lot you still don’t know – be open to learning it.
  7. Speak up, but don’t overstep. This is a tricky one. This is a “know when to speak” kind of word of advice. Offer your ideas, because as obvious as it may seem, not everyone thinks like you and it may not have been thought of before.
  8. Never think something isn’t your responsibility because it wasn’t in your “job description”. Go above and beyond. It’s usually noticed, and if it’s not, at least you know you’re doing your absolute best.
  9. Don’t let people take advantage of you. Paving your way often leads to doing things for others to either fill time gaps or prove your worth, while this is great, know when to say no – you’re not everyone’s assistant.
  10. Ask questions. No one grows by doing the same thing all day, every day. Keep learning from those around you as well as other resources.
  11. Read. You hear it from your professors and guest speakers all the time. “The most successful people read every day”. Not only is reading one of the best ways to learn, but it’s also a way to calm down, decompress and take your eyes off a screen for a while. Additionally, reading for fun or leisure is much more enjoyable when there’s no school deadline attached to it.
  12. Make time for fun. Don’t get so caught up in trying to prove yourself that you forget about taking care of yourself. Enjoy your time off and make time for it. Burnout is popular among ambitious young professionals – work for a living, don’t live for work.

Your first “real job” is terrifying, but also an exciting opportunity. Establish that you deserve to be there and you are ready to handle any task that is thrown your way. Once you get through the door and have the job, it’s not all downhill from there. Quite the opposite actually, now it’s time to work your ass off. Good luck!

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Social Sharing Can Help Your Business Boom

Right off the bat you may be wondering, “Why would I ever want to create a blog or website?” to which my response would be, “Because you can monetize it!” Setting up a website is more simply done than you may think. It doesn’t take years locked in a dark basement learning how to write code to produce something you can be proud of (I am using WordPress, which is fairly simple and includes tons of useful tools). We all have our own hobbies and interests that we engage in each day, why not try to make a little cash? You may be an artist, a musician, athlete, poet, video gamer; whatever your hobby may be, there is a community of individuals who share that passion. Starting your own website is a great way to build traction within a community and develop awareness of what you do. By creating a blog, and fine tuning it through social media, you will learn more about what you love, you will meet people who share your interest, and you might be surprised to find that you truly enjoy it. Hanging your thoughts out for the world to see can be a little uncomfortable at first, but realizing that people are actually listening is a satisfying reward. Following are a few website creation and sharing tips that I hope can get the creative ball rolling.

Do Your Research, Create Content People Want

Diving in and immediately promoting your interests, or business, may seem like a good first step. However, many of us are overwhelmed and turned off by another’s attempt to sell us something. Your website shouldn’t focus solely on you. Your content should be developed around what potential users find interesting; can you spot any trends? If so, take advantage of trends and catch a wave to success. Do research on your subject, become a knowledgable voice in your field.

Use images to break up chunks of text, and make pages more attractive
Use images to break up chunks of text, and make pages more attractive
Another effective way to position yourself amongst the current big dogs is to watch them. What are their goals, who are they reaching out to, what are their strengths, are they failing to meet a market need on which you can capitalize? By developing a well-rounded understanding of what potential viewers like, or don’t like, you can tailor your content to cater to those needs.

When creating a blog it is important to remember that everything you share doesn’t have to be in print. If you have art you would like to share, heard a great new song (maybe you made one!), or saw a funny video, chances are that others exist in this world who will also find similar content interesting. Don’t be afraid to speak to your audience with passion. You have got to do something to break through the noise of a competitive market. When planning to speak to a group it is important to ask, “Why should they listen?” You have valuable things to say, but so do a million others. Pair that with peoples’ limited time, and it becomes clear that being unique is very important when getting someone to take time away from their day to pay attention. Understand your fans so you can produce something that matters. Be inspirational, be different, and aspire to talk to your audience in a way that is not only interesting, but also valuable enough to share.

Social Media Sharing Can Drive Magical Results

Social media sites are great platforms for sharing with those who are interested in what you do. People today spend a shocking amount of time on their mobile devices, computers, and social media sites. If you are dedicated to providing entertaining content, technology of today allows us to speak to millions at the touch of a button. That is POWERFUL. However, it will not always be easy and you may experience some failures (but that is ok, because they can be fixed). You may be surprised that your sweet new website fits seamlessly into this advantageous ecosystem designed for sharing. Social media is the best way for you to begin developing awareness of your message. Again, messages to your social media community should not be self-promotions. Do not become another advertisement that is ignored by your followers. Trolling for attention is not attractive either, so be mindful of their needs. Plug in to the topics that they are already interested in. Become content that users are excited to see because it provides them value.

Social Sharing
Connectivity across social networks provides great opportunities.

Think of your website/blog as the center of a bike wheel. Social media are the spokes of your wheel. Create social media accounts for your blog, and promote information that is useful to your audience. Link your posts back to your site, and on your site provide links back to your social media. Each piece exists to support the other; and without one, the other loses its potential. Each of these pieces exist as a contribution to a bigger picture, your real life and business. You don’t always need to create all the content you promote. You have friends, and family, who are doing cool things. There are other individuals in your field who are setting trends and influencing change. Share what others’ accomplishments and explain why you think it is cool or relevant. Promoting others generates interest surrounding the topic, which is good for you and good for others. Do not be afraid of elevating the field, because in the process you will elevate yourself. More people genuinely interested in a topic also means more potential ears for you to attract.

Another great feature to social media, and website driven sharing? It is measurable. There is a long list of tools that can be used to measure how interested a community is in your cause. Google and FaceBook both provide software programs that will help you paint a clear picture of the way people consume your content. You can see whether or not people interact with your posts, how long to they spend on your site, where do users typically access your content? These are just the tip of the iceberg of web traffic measurables. Measuring your users interest may seem tedious, and at times painful, but allows for us to make our messages better. Did your last blog post flop? Are visitors rarely visiting more than one page on your site? You can either guess-and-check, say a prayer and hope it fixes itself. Or you, can use simple analytic tools to do better next time. Create your site with an online platform like WordPress, Foursquare, or Wix, and they will likely have plugins that allow you to measure and optimize content. Google has powerful tools for measuring online behavior. Find groups and forums that are have a shared interested in your topic, share your content with them, and use tools to measure who is responding. Provide more content to those who seem inspired. Alter messages so that they aren’t landing on deaf ears. It is smart to deploy two strategies with the same goal, and compare the two. What worked? What didn’t? You can start to play a game of leap-frog toward improvement.

Creating Interest Takes Time, Don’t Get Discouraged

Chances are unlikely that you will create a good blog, link it to your social media, go to bed, and wake up to the new FaceBook. Your content may be spectacular, your messages on point, and you may truly be making an impact on those who are listening; but considerable growth will take time. Hopefully you have chosen to create around something you find enjoyable, because success will require a dedicated involvement. Your content must be consistent; both in what it applies to and your timeliness. If you have begun to generate some interest, you better begin to generate more content! This is where all the available measurement tools come into play. Pay attention to trends, to your audience, and to your instincts. Encourage people to share by creating a community, and providing that community with something they enjoy. At first it may seem daunting, but as the pieces begin to fall into place it becomes pretty cool. You just mind find that in the process of providing others with something they enjoy, you can stumble upon something new and surprising that you enjoy. When you find it, pursue it. Don’t give up, just get better.

Be patient, and listen to feedback, while growing followers.
Be patient, and listen to feedback, while growing your followers.

If you are interested in more content regarding individual growth, and business development, please check out my blog @ Protect Our Roots

The Forgotten Middle Child – 90’s Kids and Why We Aren’t Millennials

 

We all know the story. Some of us have even lived it. Forgotten, overshadowed, and pushed aside. Being the middle child was the worst. The oldest sibling received all the accolades and rewards, the youngest received all the attention. And there we were, waving our hands in the air trying to say, “Hey! I’m right here and I’m not like them!” And here we are, still waving our hands, still trying to push our way past the shoulders of our surrounding siblings. A little older, a little wiser, but still just as frustrated. Being a 90’s kid is tough.

 

 

Damn Millennials.” Many times have these words been uttered through the lips of baby boomers and Gen X’s. “All they care about is social media! They don’t know how to work hard!” We hear it. And we take it. But it’s a load of bulls**t. Sorry, I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s go back. The definition of a Millennial is someone who was born between around 1980 and around the early 2000’s. While the characteristics of a Millennial can vary depending on the source, the gist is relatively the same. Lazy, narcissistic, coddled, materialistic, disengaged. Positive isn’t it? However in reality, the term “Millennial” isn’t as generalizable as many make it out to be.

People born in the 1980’s are currently aged anywhere between 26 and 35 years old. Having been in the working world for around four or five years, this decade of people are usually seen as responsible employees and entrepreneurs, creating a name for themselves and making short work of corporate ladders all around the world (sounds like the eldest sibling doesn’t it?). Racking up accomplishments and higher salaries, they’re already integrated with Gen X and often aren’t thought of when someone mentions Millennials. People born in the latter half of the term “Millennial” are currently in the height of their teenage years, and because of their youth, are usually grouped in with the rest of the post-century birth crowd. This is where the stereotypes of being a Millennial stem from. But I’ll come back to that later. Right smack in the middle, as always, are 90s kids. Currently aged 16 to 25, we are forced to be grouped into this almost derogatory term, “Millennial”. However we couldn’t be more different than our two surrounding siblings.

I was born in 1994. A great year if I allow myself to say so. Nelson Mandela, Netscape, Rwanda massacre, World Trade Center Bombing…Kurt Cobain…O.J. Simpson… Okay so maybe it wasn’t that great of a year. My point though is that all this happened in one year. Look at what 90’s kids have been through over the course of their short lives: Y2K, 9/11, the dot com boom and bust, the Gulf War, the War in Afghanistan, and the War in Iraq, Apple’s rise to power, the Great Recession, the first black president, the legalization of gay marriage. And those are just a few off the top of my head. We’ve been left to solve the energy crisis and are the last generation that can reduce climate change and global warming before it’s too late. The world has changed immensely in the past 25 years. It’s led to one of the greatest qualities that 90’s kids possess. Nostalgia. And a whole lot of it. We grew up in a time that was almost entirely analog and the biggest fear was Y2K instead of war and the economy. We came of age in a time of great turmoil both domestic and abroad. We became adults in an entirely digital age and a slowly recovering economy. We are incredibly young, and yet possess the nostalgia of an old man.

We yearn for the simpler times, when the TV was turned on only after finishing family dinners and calling our friend’s home phone was the only way to reach them (other than AIM). And now I’m currently sitting in front of two computer screens as my phone sits within an arm’s reach dinging with updates of text messages, emails, and social media updates (perhaps this nostalgia is why hipsters came about). This dichotomy in ways of life leaves us 90’s kids wishing we were kids again. And that age was only 15 years ago! This isn’t a bad thing though. Growing up through all of this change has allowed us to adapt to all of the new tech and be very proficient with it. But we also see the value in writing a handwritten note to an employer after a job interview and enjoy relaxing with a good book. In a way, we are the most tech savvy analog people out there. Yes, I know what a tape deck is and watched VHS movies. I also owned a CD player. 90’s kids learned on Gateway computers but can do programming on any Mac book or PC no problem. I could go on and on but my point is that in our eyes, technology doesn’t seem to be advancing that fast. See, we grew up at the same time Apple did. At the same rate Google and Microsoft did. The pace of new technological advancements is about as routine as our birthday coming around every year. And it’s allowed us to be a pretty rare breed. Yes, we are different. But don’t you dare tell me I’m a Millennial.

As I mentioned before, I believe the term Millennial comes from the stereotypes derived from the post-turn of the century kids. All these kids know is digital. This group of kids was seven years old when the first iPhone came out. Is it their fault? Not to me it isn’t. It’s the result of being thrust into a rapidly advancing, tech dependent world and having a cell phone in their hands since 1st grade (that’s not an exaggeration, see the link at the bottom**). Look, our society is convenience oriented. Everything is about what makes things easier and faster. Is it any surprise that it has rubbed off on the very kids that are in their peak of susceptibility? Call it lazy if you want, I call it the effects of their environment. And everything is faster and easier. My cell phone (or mini-computer, however you look at it) has the capability to do anything I want and more. It houses the ability to connect with anyone I know in about 30 different ways. It’s no wonder these kids live and breathe social media. When everyone is connected to everyone else at all times, it’s easy to want to keep attention on yourself (after all, they are the youngest sibling; attention is everything). Has it implanted an entitled “me, me, me” loop track in these kids heads? Gen X seems to think so. And I’m inclined to agree. This is what is scaring employers and causing feelings of regurgitation every time they encounter a so called Millennial.

Sure, call me bitter. I think all of us 90s kids are. We are sick of being grouped into all these Millennials stereotypes. But it is not us. I suppose it’s our fault we’re included in this. We’ve had our heads down, working hard to build a name for ourselves. Haven’t heard of us? Well you’re about to. We are the kids from the 90’s. And we’re about to step out from behind our siblings and shake up the world.

*This article expresses the opinions of a possibly bias student born in the 90’s.

** http://abc7chicago.com/technology/study-53%-of-kids-get-a-cell-phone-at-age-6/637197/

Written by Devon Dietrich, senior at the University of Montana majoring in Marketing, Management, and Psychology.

Sources:

http://www.cbsnews.com/news/the-millennials-are-coming/

http://www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2014/03/here-is-when-each-generation-begins-and-ends-according-to-facts/359589/

https://www.google.com/search?tbm=isch&q=90s+collage&imgrc=pxdfMx4kof5G_M%3A&ei=ZC4wVu3EDIiojwO0wr7oDw&emsg=NCSR&noj=1#emsg=NCSR&imgrc=pxdfMx4kof5G_M%3A

http://theodysseyonline.com/ole-miss/middle-child-syndrome-it-is-real/93262

http://www.partyfeverltd.co.uk/party-supplies/birthday-party-themes/60s-70s-disco-80s-party.html

Social Media and the Internet: A Retrospective