11 great tips for the young (or new) employee

We have a number of new college graduates and young employees now working in our business headquarters. Our two summer interns joined the company as full-time employees, and three others were hired straight from graduation. They watch with intensity the goings on in our office; each high and low point is an important teachable moment. And while we may occasionally face generational differences, the positive attributes they bring far outweigh any age-related challenges. I am a big believer in “stage not age” and this group is a teachable, mature and forward-thinking asset to our company.

The more seasoned staff play important roles in the development of younger staff members’ professional skills. I love to watch the interactions, and to observe the natural reactions of frustration and fear during a learning process – and then the evolution of those emotions into pride and satisfaction.

When asked for advice by younger employees, I always take pause. I feel that I was their age just a moment ago – but what I know now is so far from what I knew a few weeks ago, let alone 20 years ago. Regardless, here are some tips I have for those of you in the early stages of your careers:

  1. Be useful. Roll up your sleeves and jump into whatever needs to be done! Forget your “job description.” The more helpful you are, the more friends and allies you will develop – and the better your work relationships, the faster you’ll move up the ladder.
  2. Be a learner to be an expert. No one starts out an expert, but anyone can become one. In our company, being an expert in your job is a core value – so we encourage lifelong learning. Ask lots of questions for the sake of skill development. You won’t look bad for not knowing something; rather, you’ll look bad if you’re not trying to learn.
  3.  Manage your stress. Life is always stressful. Always. Top performing professionals, however, find ways to manage that stress. Find your release and keep your eye on your goal. Once you accept that stress is part of being human, you’ll accelerate.
  4.  Boundaries are okay. You will encounter toxic people. They will be jealous, needy, competitive or just plain annoying. Your greatest power is the ability to say “no” to such people – but in a tactful way that sets boundaries without painting you as selfish. Take the time to learn this art.
  5.  Listen to yourself. Not others. Ignore those who don’t bring you joy and positivity.
  6.  Rise above. This is a core value at American Vein & Vascular Institute. Irrational and nonsensical pressures may arise. It’s important to find the high road and stick to it, no matter how bumpy it is. One of my favorite quotes is from Liza Minelli: “Reality is something you rise above.”
  7.  Be a “Solutions Helper.”  My 8-year-old daughter requested a name badge when she saw new employees handed tags to wear on their shirts. I asked, “What is your role here? You have to have a job title.” And she responded, “I am a Solutions Helper.” She then spent the rest of the morning coming up with ideas to solve everyday problems in our office. How great is that? She’s hired.
  8.  Seek support. Find a mentor to guide you through your ups and downs. There’s a great chance that this person has already weathered the stuff that brings you down now, and they’ll have tips to help you succeed.
  9.  Be mindful. Know what pushes your buttons and how to prevent or manage those triggers. Lack of emotional control or emotional intelligence is a great way to empower the toxic people in your life and embarrass yourself amongst peers and bosses.
  10. Forgive. Trust. Forgiveness helps you move forward with freedom. Develop trust with your coworkers and rely on it.
  11. Choose your battles. Don’t get sucked into silly situations. If you do, you aren’t on the right (high) road. Choose your battles – and whom you battle – wisely. Conserve your energy for what really matters, and for what will move you forward.

Our young hires are a high-energy, refreshing and bright group. I couldn’t be more delighted to open a career path to each one of them, and to be a part of their stories. Someday they will have their own professional words of wisdom to bestow, and I like to think that I will have contributed to those.

Are you hesitant to hire young people or those without experience? If so, why? What have been your successes and challenges with bringing aboard new graduates and how do you facilitate success in a young employee? The advice we can offer is endless and I could go on for pages. What would you add to the list?