While it's hard to believe my college graduation was four years ago, I can't help but feel that this is exactly where I am supposed to be right now.
If you would have told me at 21 that I would be working as a full-time fundraiser, running my own business, and already have my college loans paid off by now, I would have probably laughed at you.
I thought my life would be completely different and though I could have never pictured what I'd be doing, I'm not surprised by it.
Many of us (*not everyone*) YoPros go through extremely drastic changes in the course of a few years. We might live completely on our own post-school for the first time in our lives; some of us may start dropping off our family's insurance if we haven't already; and some of us meet someone that changes our life, whether it be romantic, platonic, or a business contact that alters our world.
Those early YoPro years are critical and open new doors for us that significantly alter our personal and professional paths. As I reflect on my life four years after graduation, here are a few key things I have learned that you might relate to on your YoPro journey or find helpful as you begin yours.
1. Networking is not just for the office.
What I'm saying here is that networking is everywhere. It can be when you run into someone from the office at a coffee shop on a Saturday, and it can also be when you're out on a Friday night with your friends. It can even be meeting someone outside of work where you might find yourself crossing paths with them again and working for them one day. You're a YoPro now, so try to act like it. Have fun, but remember that you should always put your best self out there because you never know who you might see out and about or who will come into your life later on.
2. You probably won't love your first job (or even second).
You all know this story…I didn't love my first job but if I had never set foot at that office, I would not be here, 4 years after school, telling you what I have learned. Not loving your job is OK, but we are trained to think that we have to be amazing at everything. Let's start normalizing not loving our first jobs. Good things will come from that and new doors will open.
3. Placing your mental and physical health first will help you perform better and live a more fulfilled life.
This took me a long time to figure out so if you are a future YoPro, take my advice and just focus on yourself. Your YoPro years are exciting and fun and should be all about…YOU. Now is the time to prioritize yourself – you just need to figure out what that looks like for you.
For me, it's running, doing hot yoga, or journaling to sort out my thoughts. I know now that shutting off my computer a couple of hours before bed is key to having a productive next day, but it might look different for you. Figure it out and give yourself permission to not be perfect at it right away.
4. Your success in life is all about how you communicate with others.
It sounds dramatic, but it's true. I often tell people that the only skill you really need before jumping into the workplace is communication. Now, if you're a doctor, I'd love if you continued going through medical school, but even you need communication skills. Many issues that arise in the office come from a lack of communication, so learning how to react to these situations better was a tough lesson for me. I always thought communication was a strength of mine, but it requires practice and fine-tuning to be strong at it when you have coworkers, managers, and peers to consider.
I don't know what the next four years will bring me, but I do know that they will probably be drastically different than what I imagine. Doors will close and new ones will open for me, but I have the base of these first four years to keep me going. I'm still a YoPro and I embrace the years ahead.
For more tips like these, consider joining one of our YoPro Know memberships that are great for YoPros looking for ways to grow in their current jobs, new opportunities to connect with fellow YoPros and business contacts, and educate themselves on how to maximize their careers early on. I hope you'll join the network!