Overcoming Your (Young) Age Part II: 4 Guidelines for Workplace Performance

If you meet the description outlined in Part I, you may be wondering what you can do to maximize your success in a working environment. In this installment, I'll detail ten of the most helpful tips that worked for me during my early ascent through my career.

  1. Dealing with Pressure
    When you're tying off your last couple of semesters in college, you should have a good understanding of how to deal with pressure and stress (deadlines, interpersonal relationships, dependencies, delegation, etc). You have probably also built a fairly high level of confidence. You know your way around the school, you know the people, you know the finals drill. Dealing with pressure after a few years of experience is no longer all that stressful; it's just part of the routine, a rule of the game.

    The same applies to your first real job out of school. A totally new environment with new people and different demands can be very daunting. Have confidence in yourself and your own ability to adapt, and after six months on the job you'll feel like a pro.

  2. Dealing with People
    You will run into a lot of folks in your first real job. Some will believe that you know almost nothing until you prove them wrong. On one project I was on, the project lead expressed his concern upfront to me that he did not think I had enough experience. I simply told him, "My skills are what they are, and I'm giving you my word that I'm knowledgeable in this area. If you decide I'm unfit for the project, than that's the way it is." He hired me and I had my contract extended twice.

    Others will recognize your greenness, and will offer to mentor you in some way. Some even take it as far to try to indoctrinate you with negative ideas about the company you're at, and you should stay far away from accepting these if you wish to make any leeway into your job.

    Deal with people consistently and professionally. Remember to be careful what you say, especially about other people, because you never know who might be someone's best friend.

  3. Get a Mentor
    People at all stages of their career have a mentor that guides them. A mentor is someone who will always be on your side and sets you up to succeed. You may have one without even knowing it!

    If you find that there is a specific person with whom you regularly exchange ideas and get advice from, this person is most likely your mentor. If your company has a mentor/mentee program available, set this person as your mentor so that you can both gain the benefits the company offers.

    Without a mentor, you are on your own, and are prone to making many of the same mistakes your mentor could have told you how to prevent!

  4. Perception is Key
    When I speak to students about getting jobs, I tend to harp on the fact that perception is key. Whether it be in your personal or professional life, how people perceive you is what dictates your success and provides a bearing on your future.


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