Now That You’ve Graduated, How Are You Going to Strategize Your Steps?

This is a message to all those newly minted college graduates, whether they are first-time graduates who are ready to begin their career or graduate students ready to tackle the world again with education-refreshed eyes:

“Every day is an opportunity to execute tactic and strategy, no matter how big or small your actions are in scale.”

Below are some thoughts to consider in your strategic approach as you tackle the world in both your workplace and lifespace. Most of these are also included in The Self 60 – Professional Development Mind/Set.

Seek Like-Minded People

This does not mean seek out and be hypnotized or entranced by Groupthink. It means surround yourself with people who allow themselves ambition and dreams, whether or not they’re as strong as yours. If you’re the dreamer always asking “What if?” or “Why Not?” seek out those people who ask the same. They don’t even have to have the same plan, necessarily, but you will thrive in a setting or at least within a circle where the drive for improvement is comparable to yours.

Got Grit?

Show that you’re both ready to roll up your sleeves and deliver strong results that exceed expectations. Don’t just deliver the bare minimum that was laid out in a job description as requirements and responsibilities when you interviewed. Demonstrate it’s going to be difficult to replace you when you’re not around.  Your resume might get you in the door for an interview, but it’s your attitude that makes the lasting impression.

Avoid Groupthink

Remember your individual value and don’t just go along with the crowd. This doesn’t mean disagree for disagreement’s sake, but if you have ideas, knowledge, or any other resource you can provide to make things better, which aren’t being brought up, step forward. There might be values you can bring to the workplace that your employer might not know about or even try to look for. Groupthink and just going along with the crowd in order to keep the status quo is both crippling and dangerous.

You are a Brand

I am of the school of thought where each of us is a brand. I am remembered for what I delivered and accomplished in each of my previous employment and career opportunities. How would you fill in the following sentence? When they think of me, they will remember that I was ___________.  That’s your brand. Is your brand one that you would seek out in another person and hire? What value would you objectively assess to that brand?

Find Your Passion

Passion is the driver of fulfillment. When you’re doing what you love, it doesn’t feel like work.  For most of us, careers are a trial-and-error process until we reach that career or place with which we are completely obsessed. It’s a work-in-progress to get to that point. Also, if your job doesn’t tap into that passion, seek something outside of work which will hold you over, utilizing that energy until you get into that job which does so that you reinforce and foster that passion. Find out, or work toward finding out, what drives you.

Never Use the F Word

The word Failure should be banished from our vocabulary. It is relevant in school to demarcate those who are ready to advance from those who just aren’t. And in your career, granted, it still doesn’t make sense to push yourself faster than you’re ready to go but don’t be afraid to try new things. What is failure now? It’s only a perception of fear. Make sure you calculate your risks but don’t be paralyzed by the abstract thought of F——.

Common Courtesy

A rare commodity: be absolutely respectful of and to everyone, no matter what their role or relationship is to you. It makes an amazing difference when courtesy is present and utilized. It’s a dying attribute that throws people off when they witness it, since they don’t expect it too often. Your character and how you treat others speaks volumes above and aside from what you deliver in technical know-how or skill. But your character and technical know-how should work side-by-side

Find/Be a Mentor/Coach

There is no better advantage than finding someone who’s invested in you and who can support you in your career. And there is no better reward than being that for someone else when the opportunity arises. Learn from those that have walked your path and teach those that are behind you in yours. You’d be surprised how rewarding both sides of the Coaching and Mentoring relationships are.

Be Curious

Even Einstein stated, “I have no special talent. I am only passionately curious.” Be curious about your surroundings and the possibilities. Don’t limit yourself and be reactive to what is brought to or presented to you. Be proactive, go out and learn about your surrounding world. It can be what you make of it, but it does take effort.  As soon as you stop learning, the world will move forward without you.

Volunteer

If we all gave a little without expecting anything back, the world would be a much better place.  The volunteering can take place either inside or outside of the workplace. As you get older, your appreciation for helping others only grows through uncompensated dedication

And now the following tenets are the foundation of, and should underpin, those mentioned above:

Do Unto Others

When all else fails, do unto others as you would have them do unto you. It is a straightforward rule of thumb. Set the example.

Always Add Value

It doesn’t matter what you do, whether professional, personal, educational, or otherwise, always leave something better than when you found it. Let that be the first step to your legacy.

Have Tact

In every little detail in life, there is strategy. Everything should be calculated. Your approach to your work, your family and your life should be considerate of the consequences.

And with that, go change the world with the right strategic steps. There’s no reason you can’t, and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

So…What About You?

  • What other great tips were you given as you entered the professional workforce for the first time?
  • What tips have you learned along the way that you believe would have helped you as you entered the workforce?
  • Are there workplaces you’ve come across that pay special attention to onboarding efforts for recent graduates as opposed to those who are more seasoned?

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