As a senior, I have had a lot of time to think about how I should prepare myself for life outside of school. I often wonder if I can fit into the professional role I have been seeking for the last four years of college. As I’ve grown and experienced new opportunities this year, I have come to learn that the modern professional isn’t an exact type. Professionals can come in many different forms so preparing yourself to be one is ultimately going to involve self-reflection. Looking back on my own professional career, I found that my success came from only three simple tactics.
Get Confident Whenever someone would give me advice about my career, I often rolled my eyes when they emphasized confidence being a factor in professionality. Recently I realized I wasn’t really listening to what they meant when they said be confident. Confidence can be expressed in even the smallest of gestures; giving direct eye contact throughout interaction, expressing pride in your work, etc. It’s strange to think but confidence can be infectious. Once you embrace your own presence within a professional space and accept that you're in the right place, a lot of doors can open. People recognize confidence and seek it out.
Push Boundaries Being too comfortable with your work and abilities can often lead to lack of energy or excitement being placed. Pushing yourself to learn more and seek out different paths to accomplish tasks positions you to be a highly adaptable and stand-out professional. Following a strict vision of professionality would sacrifice that special uniqueness that all people carry. By pushing your boundaries, you are being true to who you are.
Ask Questions Often, when we don’t know how to do a certain task people will do anything but ask questions in order to get it done. Asking questions can seem embarrassing, it can almost feel like an admittance of failure. Not knowing something isn’t a weakness. Acknowledging that you don't know how to do something and seeking help can be an empowering experience. People recognize the effort you put into your work and appreciate the fact that instead of fumbling around trying to figure out a task, you took the initiative to seek out knowledge from people who are more experienced.
As you prepare yourself for a new world of excitement and potential, remember that your feeling of insecurity will pass. Finding the right path isn’t an easy one but when you do, all the effort and stress and anxiety will have been worth it.