By Amber Alarid, JVA Consulting
For just over a year and a half, I have had the incredible privilege of being a JVA team member. From my time as an intern to my current marketing and communications coordinator position, I have accumulated numerous life lessons from which I think many young professionals can benefit. While I recognize the value of firsthand life experience, some of my experiences are ones I hope other young professionals don’t have to experience themselves. These events, though seemingly trivial, point out real problems young professionals should try to avoid.
The dangers of multitasking
Early in my internship at JVA, I went to the kitchen to microwave some popcorn. After placing the bag in the microwave, I discovered an issue I felt needed to be addressed right away, so I set the microwave for something like five minutes and scurried off to speak with a coworker. Not long after, my nose caught a familiar smell. Several people reached the kitchen at once, and to make a long story short, the microwave needed to be hauled outside the building, a room full of training participants was enveloped in smoke and I think I may have cried. Another time, I sent a mass email that wasn’t quite finished because I was working on more than one email at the same time and didn’t keep them straight in my rush to multitask. Needless to say, my actions came off as more careless than impressive. What can you learn from these incidents, you might ask? The ability to multitask can be a wonderful asset, but it is not appropriate for all occasions. When a pressing project arises, be prepared to devote your full attention to it. Taking on more than you can realistically handle causes your work to suffer.
Questions are a young professional’s best friend
Should you find yourself lucky enough to be invited to an offsite meeting, be sure you know exactly where the meeting is. I once neglected a key element in my directions: the highway exit. By the time I realized my mistake I was so far off course I decided to forge ahead on a new route. This was mistake number two. After getting lost on a road with no street lights at night and not seeing street signs for miles, I found a convenience store and got more bad directions. I continued to drive further away from my destination, gas dwindling. I was VERY late to the meeting that night. This scary and embarrassing adventure taught me two valuable lessons. First, always be prepared. Whether it’s confirming directions to a meeting ahead of time or confirming expectations before diving into a new project, it’s best to be sure you have a clear roadmap before you end up lost. The second lesson is to not be afraid to ask questions, (although make sure you pose your questions to someone you trust). Had I clarified my course with my coworker ahead of time, I would have had a better idea where I was going. Instead I was too proud, opting to trust a third party who ultimately took me even further from where I wanted to go.
Never take your coworkers for granted
I’m sorry to say that this particular point has no humorous anecdote, but it’s worth mentioning. As a young professional, it can be easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle in an effort to get ahead, missing the other important aspects of the job such as the people we work with and the relationships we build. I have always known I was surrounded by an inspiring and impressive team here at JVA and have loved every minute of getting to know everyone in the building. However, through a series of recent events, I’ve come to realize my coworkers are more than just the people I share office space with. My coworkers have come to be some of my dearest friends, greatest supporters and closest mentors. Not only did they laugh it off when I nearly destroyed the microwave and forgive me for arriving late to an important meeting, they encouraged me to become more active in the community through nonprofit boards and stood by me in times of personal struggle. Take the time to get to know the people around you both professionally and personally and you will reap rewards that go beyond the office.
As I continue to grow here at JVA, I will undoubtedly have more lessons to share. Some lessons will be funny and some tough, but as I think about the time thus far, it has all been worth it. What lessons have you learned firsthand as a young professional? Share them in the comments section below.