By Tashfina Rahman
With the vast amount of resources available to us right at our fingertips in this day and age, it seems like finding success should be as easy as ever. We hear the stories our parents tell us; how they immediately found jobs right after college that led to their perfect careers and the rest was history. Unfortunately, becoming a financially independent, fully functioning adult isn’t so black and white anymore.
The vast amount of resources we have, while helpful, have only made the job and internship market more competitive. Millenials are unique in that many of us are educated, extremely motivated and have multifaceted skill sets. So, how exactly do we set ourselves apart from the competition?
I don’t have the perfect answer for this question. However, I did have an incredible internship this past summer at ENTITY Magazinein Los Angeles where I gained a breadth of knowledge from a group of mentors about finding success as a millenial. Here are my tips.
1. Find a mentor
This is something that was stressed from day one at my internship. It was something I had never given much thought to previously. As millenials, we pride ourselves on being fiercely independent.
But, the truth is there is so much knowledge we can gain from people who have been in our shoes. So, find a mentor or mentors in your life. It doesn’t have to be one magical person who has all the answers. A mentor should be someone you could turn to for advice and someone who has experience in your respective field. There will be so many times you feel lost in the search for success and nothing is more helpful than having someone you can turn to who will talk to you in a straightforward, professional way.
2. Network, network, network!
I know we’ve heard this a million times. But, it really does make a difference to know the right people when you’re swimming in an applicant pool of a million other qualified college graduates.
Something I was always confused about was how exactly to network. I learned from my internship that the only way to networkis to simply put yourself out there. If there’s someone you want to talk to, just do it. It may seem scary, but most people will be willing to talk to you. Seek out events in your area in the field you want to work in because they are plentiful. The key that I learned from my mentors is to make the effort to stay in touch.
Make sure you connect with them on some sort of social media platform. Now, don’t start asking them for favors right away. Try to make a genuine connection with them. A great example would be just commenting “Congratulations!” on a LinkedIn post announcing a job promotion. Make your presence known, but don’t overwhelm them. When the time comes and you may need their help, they’ll be much more willing to assist you, knowing that you’re not just using them.
3. Learn some skills that will set you apart
It’s no longer enough to be a proficient writer if you want to work at a newspaper, magazine or PR agency. Even though I was at a writing internship, my mentors taught us PR skills, graphic design tricks and even how to film and edit short videos.
In this digital age, being able to do something such as photography, videography or graphic design will really differentiate you from your peers. Get the necessary software, such as, which is discounted for students and simply watch Youtube tutorials. You don’t need to be a master, but even being proficient in these other areas will be highly beneficial to you. Also, many of these skills end up being enjoyable and adds a layer of creativity to your portfolio that will set you apart from the crowd.
4. Manage your time wisely
It’s amazing how much you can actually get done in one day. At my internship, we started at 9 a.m. and ended at 6 p.m. everyday. Each day would be planned out. It always blew my mind how many projects we managed to get done over the course of those nine hours just because we used our time productively.
One great way to manage your timeis to plan. Write your day out in a planner. This will keep you focused and on track to ensure you don’t waste time sitting around, wondering what to do next. Don’t procrastinate, always be punctual and get a good night’s sleep every night. Doing all of these things will ensure that your time is always used in a productive, meaningful way.
5. Consume as much meaningful material as you can
We are the things we read. We are the things we watch. We are the things we listen to. This was one of the most valuable conversations I had with one of our mentors this past summer. She advised us to wake up everyday and read something, whether it be from a book or news articles.
Read as much as you can. Nothing helps make a better writer or communicator than simply reading.
Apart from reading, you can also listen to podcasts, Ted Talks or audiobooks. Anyone can make themselves look great on a resume, but you’ll still need to prove you’re as brilliant as you say you are in person. Consuming intellectual, creative material will in turn make you a more intellectual, quick and creative person. Besides, consuming quality material can inspire you and lead you to do great work yourself!
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