I recently chatted with a young ad executive, Geno Schellenberger, for his Breaking & Entering podcast. He’s impressively enterprising, setting up his own podcast to help peers also trying to break into the advertising industry. Though Geno’s interest is in the advertising world, many of the principles we discussed have broader application. So, I extracted 3 practical tips for young people entering the workplace.

1. Empower yourself early in your career.

Fearless girl empower yourself

Heading to an interview and feeling nervous? Remember, you’re not just being interviewed; you are also interviewing the company to ensure it’s a good fit.

  • Is this a place that is worthy of your time, where you will spend more hours than anywhere else in your life?
  • Can you see yourself thriving here?
  • What are your leader’s principles, and what do they prioritize?
  • What can you learn about the company’s culture?

Get intentional about how you collect this information. If you ask a general question, you’ll get a general answer. Pose an expected question, and you’ll receive an expected response. Instead, here are some questions you might ask to really understand the hiring manager and culture of the place:

  • When’s the last time you got your key leaders together? What did you do and talk about?
  • How often do you hold an all-hands meeting?
  • When was the last time someone came to you, who was struggling?
  • Can you give me an example of something you recently orchestrated to delight your teams?

If they offer inspiring answers, delivered with great care and enthusiasm, you’ve found a great spot. If they can’t think of tangible examples, consider it a warning flag. If they stare at you blankly… well, you know.

2. Everyone at every level has the opportunity to demonstrate leadership daily.

Hello I'm sticker take leadership

Even if you don’t manage people, you will find yourself managing processes, systems, and client expectations. So, early in your career, clearly define how you want to operate. This is about about leading yourself with intention.

  • WHO are you? How will you introduce yourself? There’s power to specificity and clarity, both for yourself and for those you work with.
  • WHAT is your role? How is it defined, and what will you make of it? Your boss may not agree, but you can at least try to stretch the definition to what you’d most like it to be.
  • HOW do you want to bring the best of who you are to work every day?

3. Learn to persevere and persist through the tough moments.

Persist through challenge

I love young people, especially the curious and passionate ones! So I say this with no disrespect: I noticed that young people today tend to jump from one job to another very quickly. Now let me start with a caveat: if you’re not treated well or don’t feel you’re learning, you should remove yourself, and place yourself where you can do both.

That said, there’s value to not running away from hardship. There’s so much richness to be learned when we’re willing to dive in deep and deal with experiences that are uncomfortable. You see, the world is not necessarily just. But looking at those around us with generosity of spirit, we can recognize that most people are trying to do the best they can.

So young people, If you can power through hardship, you’re going to learn so much more! Discover what maturity and wisdom you can gain when you come out the other side, and you will catch a glimpse of your best, future self.

I hope you find these 3 practical tips for young people entering the workplace helpful. Do you have any of your own to add? I’d love to hear them!

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