Being thrust into the “real world” of entry-level careers and highly competitive internships requires more than just a good CV and connections. It requires something more tangible than a work ethic, more effective than a bachelor’s degree, and more lasting than a good recommendation.
Yes, those things are essential, but they aren’t nearly as crucial as your greatest asset: your peers. Going it alone is basically career suicide for the new professional. I’ve seen it firsthand.
Since I graduated, I’ve been fortunate enough to have other new professionals as friends (the above picture is me with a few of them), constantly giving me a rubric to measure myself against. It’s cold, but life really is a competition. Evaluating the success of your peers and pushing yourself to achieve your own goals is how you really progress after college.
Take my word for it. The millennial generation has to be the laziest one yet. It’s not just that we don’t work as hard, we know that we’re not working as hard as we can. I hope we see that change soon, and I’ve personally found that nothing humbles you into pushing your life forward more than watching your friends succeed.
I was a wreck during my first job. I had no idea what I was doing and frequently had to receive counsel from my friends. I remember late-night phone calls about my fear of talking to high-level journalists at magazines like Forbes and HBR. My peers got me through that.
Later, when I had to cement what type of industry I would commit it, it was the success of my friends that motivated me to strive for more. While I have my own ambitions, it was still useful to see just how capable my friends and I are. If they can do it, I can do it.
Don’t go it alone. Don’t measure yourself against your shadow. Creating lasting relationships with your peers and constantly watch what they’re doing and how they’re doing it. That’s how the new professional can find real success.
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