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Life Tips For New Grads

 

After graduation, it’s often difficult to gauge what your next steps are and how to make them. Like most new grads, you’re eager to impress and succeed in your field of work. That's why it's important to strengthen your professional and personal skills. Don’t forget that most of your work life is going to rely on your ability to work and get along with others.

 

With that said, here are five tips you can use as you enter the workforce. 

 

1. Strengthen Your Social Skills

 

Strengthening your social skills will not only help you in your personal life, but will make a great deal of difference in your professional one. Being able to communicate effectively with your employer and your co-workers is extremely important. There are many ways to strengthen these skills, all it takes is practice. Introduce yourself to someone new, take an interest in what they’re saying and use that as a reference to build your questions off of. The more you socialize, the easier it will become, and trust me, you will thank yourself come promotion time. 

 

2. Lower Your Standard

 

At first, the idea of lowering your standard might sound crazy, but I promise you that it’s not. After graduation, almost all new grads are hungry for success. For the first time, you actually feel prepared to work in the field your passionate about. Your hopes are set on landing the ideal job - a job that pays well and offers advancement opportunities. Truth is, things don’t always pan out that way. Thanks to a fluctuating job market, getting that dream job doesn’t always happen overnight, even if you do have the education to back it. Instead of beating yourself up for not reaching your goals right away, be patient and give yourself time. Be realistic and understand that life is full of ups and downs and just because you haven’t succeeded right out of the gate, doesn’t mean you never will. 

 

3. Narrow Your Focus

 

The world is full of potential. No matter where you look, there is always another door just waiting for you to walk through. This can often be overwhelming when entering the workforce. With so many opportunities at your fingertips, it may be hard to choose exactly what direction you want to go in. However, in order to achieve your dreams, it’s important to narrow your focus. Once you do that, you can create specific and achievable steps that you can take that will get you closer to your goal. Looking at the big picture has the potential to swallow you up in it. Writing your ideas down is a good way to purge all of those ideas you have. Once you get those out, it will be easier to focus on what you need to do in order to get what you want. 

 

4. Allow Room For Mistakes

 

It never feels good to make a mistake. Most of that is due to the feeling it gives us after we’ve made it. We feel like we’ve failed which can lead to the feeling of fear. 

 

Am I going to get fired? Am I really that bad at my job? 

 

The answer is no. If we didn’t make mistakes, we’d be robots. One mistake doesn’t mean game over. It means you have to get up and try again. Now that you’ve learned, your chance of making another mistake is low and even if you do, it’s not the end of the world. Remember, you’re still learning. Learning doesn’t stop in college, it continues throughout our daily lives. Mistakes are important, and in most cases, necessary. 

 

5. Develop Healthy Habits Early

 

A lot of people believe that it’s hard to teach an old dog new tricks. 

 

That’s because it is. 

 

The habits you make now will follow throughout your entire adult life. Those bad habits you picked up in college will follow you into your professional life. If you’re used to procrastinating or sleeping in, it’s time to change that. Before you land a job, gradually start waking up earlier in order to get your body used to it. That goes for any other bad habits you have. Slowly integrate healthier lifestyle choices into your daily routine and stick to them. It will be an adjustment, but it’s more than worth it. 

 

 

 

 

 

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Strong Mentorships

If you were to ask yourself who were your best mentors in your life, I’m sure several people would come to mind from your childhood to even a person you currently see on a daily basis. Perhaps they were a great school teacher, a coach, an academic program advisor, or a supervisor from your first summer job. When you think about those mentors, can you truly remember what exactly they said to you that made you feel ...Supported? Inspired? Captivated? Chances are you don’t remember what they said, or what their hairstyle was, what they were wearing or their overall mannerisms. Often what shines though and has us thinking and reflecting about our time with them is how they made us FEEL. They encouraged, inspired, motivated, and enabled us to see a part of the world that we had not yet been exposed.


Now I’m going to ask you to reflect on another mentoring note – who were your WORST mentors in your life? Who were the tedious teachers, the exhausting coaches, the leaders with lack of patience or who showed favoritism to team members and did not foster teamwork? Those are unfortunately the people who had a large effect on your life in terms of your goals and your career choices. They may be a current co-worker or employer who doesn’t like to your ideas, micro manages you, and frustrates you to the point that you can’t focus on your actual work tasks. Fortunately, there is a silver lining to these negative individuals whom you have crossed paths in your life. It is the negative influence leaders who you should remember, and strongly take note of the choices they make since their role in your life demonstrates an exact OPPOSITE model of who you want to be when you are a leader, a mentor and a role model. Harness the energy, emotions and time you have had for these individuals and in turn, know that you will make choices as a leader to promote the passion of life-long learning, engage in new ideas and be patient as everyone cultivates into professionals and agents of change at a different rate.


I share these thoughts on positive and negative influence leaders in our lives because it is a great responsibility to be a mentor to others. It’s also a privilege. I have had the opportunity to not only mentor fellow colleagues but also be linked with a post-graduate school to be a preceptor to a specific student for 4, 6, and 8 week placements at a time. These weeks can feel more exhausting than a normal work week because all of your moves are being watched by a young professional starving to grow and make a contribution to the real world. Being a professional leader is often focused on the student in training yet what happens in a positive mentor/protégé relationship is that the mentor is the one who learns just as much as the student. I love when students/young colleagues ask me questions such as “Can you tell me why you decided to complete that task first?” or “How did you come to make that decision?” because these are the questions that we often forget to ask ourselves on a daily basis in the midst of our busy lifestyles and careers.


So the next time you are asked to take on a student or a new colleague in training, please don’t hesitate to help as you will benefit in your career as well. Mentorship is a beautiful experience full of reflection and engagement of both parties, bringing everyone to a level of asking more questions and deeper understanding of their careers – and quite possible themselves.  Remember, you could be that positive, influential role model that this young professional needs.
 

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Secrets of Successful Leadership

Being a leader may come natural to some, being a successful leader is an entirely different story. Orrin Woodward once said, "Average leaders raise the bar on themselves; good leaders raise the bar for others; great leaders inspire others to raise their own bar." Below, I will share what I believe to be the secrets of successful leadership:


Lead by example – a successful leader is a person of authenticity, a role model, an influencer, someone that others follow because they want to, not because they have to. So, make an example out of yourself and demonstrate the energy and passion that you have for the work you want your team to do.


Communicate – a successful leader never assumes, instead they paint a really clear picture for the team to ensure that they are up to speed and in the know. Keep the momentum going, by re-visiting goals and encourage your team to share their successes and their challenges with each other, giving them every opportunity for growth.


Anticipate obstacles – a successful leader is ready for any road bump along the way, because there will always be road bumps! Be prepared to conquer obstacles and keep the team moving in the forward direction; a successful leader will not allow the team to lose momentum when a crisis occurs.


Keep your team engaged – ROLE PLAY if and when possible, and have some fun! If your team is not a close knit team, allow them to get to know each other. Trainings and team meetings are perfect opportunities for team building activities; present them with a challenge and allow them to work through it, and be excited about what they have just accomplished… together! 


Acknowledge - John Maxwell says, "A good leader is a person who takes a little more than his share of the blame and a little less than his share of the credit." Successful leaders always acknowledge their team and give credit whenever possible. A little ‘thanks’ and ‘great job’ goes a long way! Say it often.


Becoming a successful leader is not easy, being mindful of the attributes and actions listed above will definitely get you on the path to becoming one. For anyone still doubting that they can go from being an average leader to a great one, I will leave you with one last thought from Donald McGannon, "Leadership is an action, not a position." So what are you waiting for? It’s time to take action!
 

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Contributors

Brian Rodnick
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May 1, 2019
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Lisa Durocher
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September 14, 2018
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