If you are a young businessperson trying to make it in Corporate America, you probably have realized by now that there are some distinct barriers inhibiting your climb up that corporate ladder. Gone are the days when you marched across the stage with your diploma in hand, and entered the corporate world wide-eyed and hopeful, with visions of corner offices and large salaries floating through your head. You quickly realize this will not be a cake walk, and you will have to pay some serious dues and put in significant work to achieve the success you desire.
So with experience and age stacked against you, how do you go about achieving success?
Dress the part.
You may have heard the saying “Dress for the position you want, not the position you have.” There is some merit to this adage. If you want others to think of you as less of a “kid” and more of a corporate executive, you should start dressing the part of a corporate executive. The way you dress says a lot about you and your ambitions, and can even affect how others in the business world perceive and treat you.
Act the part.
You can’t just hit snooze and run into your class 5 minutes late anymore. This is Corporate America, and there is little room for tardiness and excuses. Be prompt. Speak professionally. Execute your work with pride and diligence. Leave your sloppiness in the dorm room and make sure you are acting like an adult businessperson serious about your career, and that is how people will perceive you.
Be patient and willing to learn.
If you thought you learned everything you needed to know about business in college, you thought wrong. It can be very aggravating for executives to come across a young business person that thinks they know it all. Don’t expect overnight success. Don’t start polishing a shiny new name plaque for a corner office after you’ve just nailed your first project. Be eager and willing to learn from those who have been in the industry for a while, and expect that things will take time and you will have dues to pay.
Polish off your networking skills.
Just because YOU haven’t been in the business world for a long time doesn’t mean you can’t get chummy with those who have. Success can sometimes depend on who you know; of course you will always need the skills to back it up, but it is always beneficial to keep your eyes and ears open for networking opportunities with those who you can learn and grow from, and who could potentially open doors for you in the future.
Embrace the advantages of your perspective.
Being young might mean that you don’t have all of the knowledge that more established business people might, but it also means that you have had exposure to some knowledge and perspectives that could perhaps enlighten them as well. Each fresh perspective in a company gives the business leverage, so allow yours to bring value to your team. Offer to help spearhead social media campaigns. Offer your advice on web based marketing techniques that others might not be familiar with. Remember that while you have a lot to learn, you still have a lot to offer, so don’t sell yourself and your knowledge short!