Many Twentysomethings I meet in Corporate America express their frustration with their work situation. Instead of making CEO two years after graduation, they are stuck making 4,000 double-sided copies for a boss who continually mispronounces their name. All is not lost, but for a growing number of well-educated Twentysomethings it sure feels that way. Their reality check has bounced.
If you lead, employ, or care about a Twentysomething who feels stuck in a real-world rut-or surfing their mom’s couch-help them break free. Your courage can change their life forever. Here’s the message I’ve seen consistently re-build Twentysomethings’ determination:
1- Recognize you’re not stuck. Sometimes it just feels that way. Tiffany, 27, knows the feeling. She graduated college with good grades and landed her dream job at a big company. At first she loved her job and new life, but six months later her 40 hour work week mushroomed into 80+ hours. The more she worked the more helpless she felt. When I met her it was clear she didn’t need advice, only encouragement to stand up for her wellbeing. She went back to work and voiced her frustration to her boss. She was convinced she would get fired. A week later he offered her a $24,000 raise and more flexible schedule. She called me with the great news and said something I will always remember, “I never realized how much control I had over my life until I used it.” We all live life on terms we choose. Change the terms by which you live and put yourself on a path to find what you’ve been missing.
2- Create an opportunity by asking for it. Bebe, now 25, graduated with a professional degree, but after weeks of searching was unable to land a job. The firm she wanted to work for was hiring a receptionist, so she applied for the job and got it. Every week she asked the firm’s President if there was anything else she could do. Could she research a project? Could she help with a presentation? He eventually let her write a proposal for a large government contract he was confident they wouldn’t win. He thought it would be good training. She completed the massive proposal between answering phone calls and sending faxes. Six months later, the firm’s President called an emergency all-staff meeting. In a serious tone he announced that the firm had won its largest contract ever. He then revealed it was the proposal Bebe had written-and he was making her a Project Manager! By asking for opportunity every day, Bebe went from receptionist to Project Manager in six months. If you feel stuck in a rut at work, start asking for opportunities. The fastest way to find them is to create them.
3- Become a protégé. Jimmy was a law school student with average grades but above average dreams. During his first year of law school, he was required to observe a high-profile criminal case. Jimmy watched spellbound as a famous attorney defended his client. Jimmy realized that the attorney could help him launch his own career. Through persistent networking, Jimmy arranged a brief meeting with the attorney. During this meeting Jimmy asked the attorney for a job-and to be his mentor. Impressed by Jimmy’s boldness, the attorney accepted. After graduation Jimmy’s mentor offered him a full-time job, but with no salary. Instead he promised to continue mentoring Jimmy if he landed his own clients. Against the advice of his classmates, and heavily in debt, Jimmy accepted the risky employment offer. Two years later, Jimmy has a bustling law practice, an impressive courtroom record, been featured on the news, and he’s only 28. Becoming a protégé may not make you an instant success, but it does give you the insight to succeed on your own terms.
The bottom line for disenchanted Twentysomethings: To cash in on your reality check bouncing, take responsibility for creating the life you want. It’s your life, live like you mean it.
If you feel uncomfortable sharing the above strategies directly with a Twentysomething, e-mail them this article. Use the subject line “My Reality Check Bounced! Success Shortcuts by Twentysomethings for Twentysomethings” They may not thank you right away, but expect an Instant Message in the near future.
© 2007 Jason Ryan Dorsey. All rights reserved.
About the author:
Jason Ryan Dorsey is a corporate keynote speaker and bestselling author of four books. He’s been featured as a voice for his generation on NBC’s Today Show, ABC’s The View, and 20/20. His newest book, My Reality Check Bounced!, helps Twentysomethings find their path in the real world. You can reach Jason, and download the first chapter of his new book for free, at www.myrealitycheckbounced.com.