In our world as we know it, mostly everything (including ourselves) is subject to change. It can be scary to admit that so much of our lives is constantly evolving beyond our control. But, no matter what comes our way, we can always decide how to handle it. As much as we have the choice to ignore new opportunities and cling to what feels familiar, we also have the opportunity to join in on the change and view challenges as learning opportunities. Choosing to cooperate with our constant evolution can allow us to open doors we wouldn’t have otherwise found. When we recognize and intentionally act on these new opportunities, we set ourselves up to grow.
Owning your personal and career development looks different for everyone. There’s so much to consider when it comes to acting to intentionally develop and grow yourself. So, in order to help guide you in this thinking, we’ve gathered some expert advice from six Wake Forest alumni.
My biggest advice would be to find ways to make yourself comfortable in the uncomfortable. For me, creating a routine during the week added a sense of comfort to my day. Find a routine, and add in little treats along the way to make your own day. The treat can be an iced coffee, a long walk where you call your friends, or planning fun dinners throughout the week.
Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Everyone means it when they say there is no such thing as a bad question. Asking questions shows that you care about yourself and others. Asking a question goes beyond getting the answer you thought you were looking for, and it could open a door that you didn’t even know was there. Most often, the answers to questions aren’t what we think they are, and usually, those are the best answers.
Never stop learning. Learn from your mistakes. We all make them. Know that at times, your biggest support may come from people who don’t know you, because people who know you are used to seeing you operate in one “lane”. As you grow, evolve, and expand, some people aren’t going to know how to process this new you.
That’s where your grounding is so important. Understand that life is a process and things take time, sometimes longer than you’d expect. But when people see that you are dedicated to your craft, you’ll be surprised where help may come from next.
And don’t forget to reach back and empower others along the way. Nobody gets “there” by themselves. Reach across the aisle and to those with experiences different from your own.
Be free. In college, for many reasons, I feel like many people often try to be what they think fits the ideal WFU image or what their parents or professors may want them to be. Let that go! Be yourself! I can speak 100% to the notion that, once you’re happy being yourself and doing things you truly like to do, everything in life points upward. It’s a euphoric feeling that I honestly can’t explain.
Wake Forest is an excellent university and will provide you the tools you need to be successful. Take advantage of the professional development resources available to you as a student and then as an alumnus. In addition to your manager with your employer, seek out someone you admire to be an additional source of advice and guidance. Often, new employees rely solely on their direct manager. It is helpful to have multiple leaders and peers that are supportive and can help you navigate your career.
I would recommend hosting people at your place and/or gathering at a local coffee shop! Whether it is a movie watching evening or a dinner party, inviting folks to your place and building a ritual experience to gather is such an amazing way to build community and expand your circles.
100% make a concerted effort to get to know your local community (i.e. volunteer at a community center/nonprofit, attend community-centered events, and learn about the history of the place you live and work in). You will feel grounded and loved.
Focus on the soft skills first: In many entry-level positions, your technical knowledge is not what is going to set you apart. Communication, time management, emotional intelligence, etc. are skills that your bosses will immediately notice and appreciate. Come to work with a positive attitude, ask questions, and be humble. When you are checking those boxes, the hard skills tend to follow naturally – and if not, your colleagues will be eager to bring you along.”