Stay Grounded, you Ambitious Twenty-Somethings

by Victoria Casal-Data

This blog post was originally posted on Linkedin and it was featured under Careers: Getting Started

Image Credit: Victoria Casal-Data 

Image Credit: Victoria Casal-Data 

Achieve short-term, accessible goals, and be on your way to the professional life of your dreams.

In between meeting with your career counselor, attending your internships and seminar courses, the last couple of years of your undergrad education were probably a blur. Everything felt so rushed, and it still feels rushed—even after graduation.

As you embark onto your professional life, you feel somewhat prepared and knowledgeable but you find it hard to get to where you want to be.

Face it, you are not as experienced as you wished you were, and you are obviously not going to get that high-paying, fulfilling job of your dreams right away- but that’s totally OK. You probably find yourself being ignored, rejected, and undermined by possible employers, and consequently, you feel inadequate. Believe me, I understand what you are going through, but you’ve got to realize, everything takes time, patience, and hard work.

It is a hard place to be in, especially for those of us who are ambitious and never satisfied with the things we’ve got going at the moment--even if they are super impressive [which I’m sure that’s the case with each and every one of you reading this article]. Our thirst for learning and working towards gaining more experience in our preferred profession may sometimes rob us of down time with ourselves or with our family and friends. Being good at what you want to do doesn’t have to mean ultimate sacrifice, or depression, or anxiety- everything should be in center.

Here are some reflections and advice that will, hopefully, help you in your journey to success in the current stage of your professional life:

Use your anxious energy on something productive.

If you are ambitious, you are probably a perfectionist—and being a perfectionist is one of the attributes of an overall anxious person. RELAX! Instead of going on a binge thinking session, take a deep breath and bring out a journal. Think about attainable short-term goals: What are some manageable actions you can take in order to get to where you want to be?

Some examples:

  • Contact a local, successful professional in your field
  • Use twitter in order to interact with Influencers in your field
  • Volunteer or get an internship at your desired place of work
  • Start a local meet-up group and find like-minded individuals with the same professional goals
  • Take a class on Udemy or get certified on a topic that is relevant to your preferred professional industry
  • Blog, with frequency, about topics related to your industry
  • Reach out to your Alma Mater’s Career Services Office. Often they might be able to pair you up with a successful alumnus with similar career paths. They may even be able to help you find a job!

Thinking about the big picture is important, but it shouldn’t take over your current situation. Essentially, this is how you become unhappy and discouraged.

Start small, and you’ll see the difference, I promise.

Engage with, and emulate, those you envy.

We are all guilty of being envious of someone that has achieved the things we’ve always wanted to achieve. You need to acknowledge that they’ve probably been around the block a few times, and they’ve gotten to where they are because of experience.

Never compare yourself to those who possess more experience than you, better yet, don’t ever compare yourself to anyone. You possess an exponential amount of creativity and potential. So, instead of obsessing over the fact that this person has everything you’ve ever wished for, make an effort to engage with them and learn from what they have to say. Try out some of the ideas they might suggest. Don't let pride get the best of you.

You’ll probably end up bonding about the struggles of starting out over a slice of pizza, or two.

This, my friends, is how you find a mentor.

Make time for downtime.

Having professional goals and achieving them can be stressful, especially for those of us that go above and beyond. It is important to take some time for yourself—spend some time working on your singing or baking skills, write on your personal blog, or maybe work on a project with a family member. Stay productive, but do something that requires you to unwind.

If you are looking to survive in the creative field, having downtime is the key to becoming inspired.

Enjoy each and every one of your professional experiences, no matter what they are.

It might not be where you want to be right now, but it is a stepping-stone and a very important one. Anything you are working on right now, no matter how big or small it is, will make you a better person and a better professional in the future.

Working in the service or retail industries, for example, can be extremely important for developing an understanding about customer service and public speaking. It can even help you develop time-management skills and a good team-work ethic. Take advantage of it!

The best advice I can give you though is to nurture your self-confidence, be patience, and learn from everything and anything you are currently working on.

You may get there sooner than you think.