By Michelle Kruse of ResumeEdge
I recently had the opportunity to meet with a group of young professionals. Still fresh with the glow of college graduation upon their faces, I smiled as they recalled the rigors of college life — sleeping until noon, dining on gourmet ramen and partaking in those always-fun late-night cram sessions.
While some of our own college memories are still crystal clear, the reality is that they become increasingly foggy as we settle into our careers. My meeting with these recent college grads triggered me to realize that now, in a comfortable place career-wise, it’s pretty easy to forget what life was like when I was just starting out.
Sure, we all need to fall on our faces and make mistakes; trial and error is the crux of human learning. When I was starting out, I was fortunate to have people around me who helped lessen the impact of those falls and even point out the perils of paths I was considering. Over the years, these experiences have led me to seek out similar mentoring opportunities to ensure that this evolutionary cycle continues. Luckily, the opportunities to give back are plentiful.
Here are five ways to give back to those who are starting out in the workplace:
If you’re unsure of where to begin, check to see if your workplace hosts a mentor program. Early on in my own career, through a mentoring program, I was paired with a wonderful woman who was within a year of retirement. Our meetings were regularly scheduled, but they were informal in nature. Sometimes we’d meet for coffee; other times we’d catch up in the break room. The venue never really mattered. Instead, those hours spent together proved to be priceless — and not in a networking sense, either. I was given the vantage point of someone who’d seen nearly everything and had survived. Looking through her lenses at the world helped me rethink how to react to different scenarios. I also learned to recognize when I was wasting my efforts and redirect my energy to be more productive.
In a manner similar to nonprofits, many schools have programs that have a huge need for volunteers. From Junior Achievement programs and career seminars to young professional or business clubs, it’s almost certain that a school near you would love to have you share your experiences to help youth grow.
Maybe you don’t have time to be physically present, but that doesn’t lessen the knowledge you’ve gained while earning your tenure. If you have a penchant for writing and a desire to put your wisdom to paper (or rather, a webpage), then by all means, sharing through a blog may be your ticket to helping those who are coming up behind you.
If you’re able to volunteer your time during business hours or evenings, a nearby nonprofit may have just the opportunity you’re looking for. In my city I have been fortunate enough to connect with a local nonprofit that focuses on helping at-risk youths. One evening each month, I spend about three hours discussing how these soon-to-be graduates can best dive into the workforce. As a recruiter, I offer insights on how their resumes should be crafted and how to knock an interview out of the park. Other times, we simply have open, candid conversations about their hopes, dreams and fears as they set out to tackle college and careers. It’s been immensely rewarding to see the smiles, and sometimes joyful tears, as these young adults return to tell me about the new job they’ve just landed.
Keeping the Door Open.
Too often, as we enter that comfortable zone in our careers and learn the ropes of networking, we forget that networking is not solely an upward event. By simply making yourself available to your junior peers, you may quickly find yourself providing guidance.
While this list serves as a general guide, there are plenty more ways in which tenured professionals can share their expertise and give back. Nobody, short of heirs and heiresses to royalty, starts out at the top — and even kings and queens have stories to share about how they were able to succeed. It’s important to help empower those who will one day fill our trail-worn shoes.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: As the editor and content manager at ResumeEdge, Michelle Kruse has helped countless job seekers find success. With more than 10 years of experience recruiting for companies like Novartis and IBM, she has firsthand experience of what recruiters are looking for, and she shares that insight with those who need it most. She writes regularly to provide advice on resume writing and interviewing not only because it’s her job, but because it’s her passion.