By Caitlin Kelly
Here’s a powerful, no-bullshit list written by Jason Nazar, founder and CEO of Docstoc, who is 34. In his blog post for Forbes, an American business magazine, he offers 20 tips for people in their 20s, like:
Congratulations, you may be the most capable, creative, knowledgeable
& multi-tasking generation yet. As my father says, “I’ll Give You a
Sh-t Medal.” Unrefined raw materials (no matter how valuable) are
simply wasted potential. There’s no prize for talent, just results.
Even the most seemingly gifted folks methodically and painfully worked
their way to success.
I like a lot of what he says.
When you’re looking for your first, or second or third, job, it’s easy to forget or not even realize how utterly different the world of work is from school, which is why internships can be a useful glimpse into the “real world.”
In school, you have very clearly defined parameters of success and failure.Whoever else is attending your college or university appear to be your primary or exclusive competition, for grades, for profs’ attention, for campus resources.
But if your classmates are not economically or racially or politically or religiously diverse, you’re in for one hell of a shock if you relocate to a different place, or several, to earn your living.
Who are these people and why do I have to do what they tell me?
In school, if you attain a fantastic GPA and some awards, you’re the bomb.
In school, yes you are.
But in school, short of wasting tuition money and/or flunking out, there are no terrible consequences to failing or missing deadlines or getting wasted or showing up to class late and/or hungover or high.
The real world is much less forgiving of stupidity and a lack of preparation.
In school, most students hang out with their peers, i.e. people within their age group. Adults end up being annoying things to please (profs) or placate (parents) but not people you may spend much time trying to understand, cooperate with or relate to as a fellow professional.
If you’ve never worked with (or managed) someone 10, 20 or 30 years your senior, how’s that going to feel?
All these new adults — not your parents or their friends or professors or people who are inherently interested in (or deeply invested in) seeing that you succeed — don’t care. And they expect a lot. All the time. OMG!
As Nazar also writes:
You Should Be Getting Your Butt Kicked – Meryl Streep in “The Devil Wears Prada” would be the most valuable boss you could possibly have. This is the most impressionable, malleable and formative stage of your professional career. Working for someone that demands excellence and pushes your limits every day will build the most solid foundation for your ongoing professional success.
The Devil Wears Prada is one of my favorite films ever.
I’ve seen it so many times I can recite dialogue from it, like Priestly’s hissed dismissal: “That’s all.”
It’s about an ambitious young journalist in New York, (so I can identify with that bit) but is also about the price of being ambitious and what it means to sacrifice your friendships (or not) or your sweetie (or not) or your ethics (or not.)
The boss in the film, Miranda Priestly, is insanely and insatiably demanding, but I get it and know why. And having a boss like that is basically boot camp for the rest of your career.
If you freak out and cry and think you can’t do it — whatever it is — you’re pretty much useless. Find someone to help you. Read a book. Watch a video. Take a class, or three. Find a mentor.
Resourcefulness will probably be your most valuable skill, no matter what sort of work you do.
The truly useful/valuable employee memorizes a two-word phrase — “On it!”
I also really like this tip:
Your Reputation is Priceless, Don’t Damage It – Over time, your reputation is the most valuable currency you have in business. It’s the invisible key that either opens or closes doors of
professional opportunity. Especially in an age where everything is forever recorded and accessible, your reputation has to be guarded like the most sacred treasure. It’s the one item that, once lost, you can never get back.
It’s temptingly easy to think: “I’m young. It doesn’t matter. No one will notice or care or remember.”
Take every opportunity to leave an impression as a chance to make it lasting and positive. That doesn’t mean sucking up or being a phony.
My current part-time assistant, C., has been stellar for the six months or so we’ve been working together. She never whines or complains, gets on with things and I routinely throw her into all sorts of situations for which she has zero training or experience. I know she can do it well — and she does.
In return, she knows she can count on me for a kickass reference to anyone she needs.
One of the things I most enjoy about this relationship is that, on some levels, we’re very different — different religions, 30 years apart in age. But she’s fun, funny, worldly. That goes a long way in my book.
My husband and I both started working freelance — while full-time undergrads — for national media, he as a photographer for the Associated Press, I as a writer for magazines and newspapers. Paid.
We put ourselves in harm’s way by competing, as very young people, with those who had decades of experience and awards and real jobs. But that’s how you learn to compete and cooperate effectively at the highest levels.
If you’re just starting out, or have been working for a while, what advice would you offer to someone just joined the work world?