Career Advice To My Younger Self

Wisdom comes from living.
Anthony Douglas Williams

I’m a corporate war dog. I’ve seen it all over the course of my long career and my life experiences have shaped me into the kind of professional I am today. While I have to vantage of hindsight, as a novice, you don’t. If I could roll back the clock and mentor my younger self, this is what I would say:

“Take your education seriously.”
While I received a great undergraduate education (I’m a Temple alum), it’s going to take a bit more than that in today’s business landscape. I’m seeing more and more employers requiring a higher level of education these days. And while it may sound elitist, companies (especially the most prestigious ones) care about where you went to school, especially when you’re just starting out. Gaining acceptance into a top MBA program will pave the way for a long and prosperous career. These programs have an amazing network you can tap into and give you an edge when competing for internships and jobs.

“Make that first real job count.”
While it may sound exciting to join a startup right out of business school, getting your feet wet within a Fortune 500 firm will shape you into a more well-rounded professional. I would look at companies with a strong management trainee program that will allow you to experience operations within multiple departments. After you’ve gotten a grasp of the way big business works, feel free to venture out into alternative career paths—especially if you know climbing the corporate ladder isn’t right for you.

“Learn how to play the game.”
Whether it’s at a large corporation or within a small team, you will need to learn how to navigate office politics. Corporate culture varies from place to place—even from department to department—so know what you need to do to build alliances that will keep you doing your best work.

“Be comfortable with getting uncomfortable.”
Early in your career, you will likely be asked to do a lot of “grunt” work. And later in your career, you may need to diversify in order to keep moving forward with your career. You need to get over the anxiety associated with stepping out of your comfort zone if you want to succeed. Understand that fear can be an asset if you handle it correctly.

Hopefully, you’ve learned something from my experiences and incorporate my advice into your own career path. What advice would you give your younger self? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Baby boomer

Baby Boomers in the Workforce – What’s Next?

I recently blogged about the Truth about Millennials in the Workforce. I hope that I displaced some of your misconceptions and offered you a new perspective on this misunderstood generation. Now let’s take a look at baby boomers and what lies ahead for this group of workers.

The U.S. Census defines baby boomers as people born during the Post–World War II era between 1946 and 1964. For boomers like myself, our careers are likely winding down. We’re thinking about retirement. Yet, many baby boomers are choosing to stay in the workforce. About 35 percent of workers continue to work past the age of 65. The reasons for staying employed vary—from financial need to wanting to work.

There is also a concerted effort by employers to keep skilled professionals in the workforce, creating more of a phased approach for the exit of those within retirement age. Businesses are trying to Stave off the Brain Drain, because there are not as many qualified professionals ready to assume the positions of those retiring. Companies are creating flexible work hours, additional benefits and more opportunities for those reaching retirement. Anything to keep older workers engaged so they can train and mentor younger employees.

However, this trend will surely have a ripple effect down the road. The prolonged rate at which people are retiring will certainly impact opportunities for younger generations, who will now have to wait longer to gain seniority.

But what I find most interesting is some of the commonalities between the two generational spectrums—millennials and baby boomers. While the millennials make demands for life/work balance and company authenticity, baby boomers are looking for much of the same. I think both groups can find common ground on many things, learn from one another’s experiences and work together to create a more skilled and happier workforce.

Are you baby boomer who is choosing to retire later? What would be your advice to millennials and vice versa? As always, I’d love to hear your thoughts.

The Truth about Millennials in the Workforce

We’ve all heard of the plight of the Millennial. The child that was over indulged in her youth, treated as if he was extraordinarily “special,” and is now looking for affirmation and adoration wherever they may land. In the workforce, some consider them more of an Achilles heel rather than an asset.

At Kaczmar & Associates, we completely disagree. We’ve had the pleasure of placing millennials in promising positions where they are thriving and employers are benefiting from the not-so-new kid on the block. Here’s the truth about what we’ve seen from this misunderstood generation of workers:

Authenticity – After living through the public collapse of Enron, it is refreshing to see a generation demanding transparency from corporations. This transparency makes everyone more accountable, even the employee. This also speaks to the fact that Millennials have been at the root of social media and authenticity is social media’s core value.

Family First – It was once customary to show your commitment to a company by staying late, working weekends and putting your job first before anything else. Millennials feel quite the opposite—they demand quality time with their family. This doesn’t mean they aren’t hard workers, or that they work less. Quite the contrary, they manage their time and use technology as their tool to make them more efficient. And ultimately this makes them happier people, which result in happier employees.

Power in Collaboration – Millennials thrive in a collaborative setting. This not only comes from their ability to multitask but also from confidence. They don’t see their boss as an expert but more of a mentor/coach. They value their superior’s opinion but also have the resources and tools to develop their own. We often forget that there is amazing value in collaboration because an individual usually takes the credit for his/her masterpiece. But take a closer look, because behind every figurehead there is most likely a very powerful collaborator.

Purpose – What is most refreshing about millennials is that they don’t work for the paycheck; they work for a purpose. This reminds me of my father’s generation, who took such pride in the company that they worked for and the values it held. There wasn’t conversation of big salaries and bonuses, but why their work mattered. Companies that are looking to make a difference and do right by the employees and the world – whether it is environmental or social – and will capture the hearts and careers of millennials.

Before you pigeonhole that millennial sitting across from you at an interview, I hope you’ll remember some of the finer points of this generation. We certainly do.

As always, I’d love to hear your thoughts. What’s your take on millennials in the workforce?