SuperTalk Mississippi

Next Up: Taking control of your career

For many young professionals, the question of “Where do you see yourself in five years?” can be daunting.

For me, it was especially challenging to answer after moving to a new state, jumping into an unfamiliar job market, and learning to call the Mississippi Gulf Coast home all in the early stages of my career. Beyond environmental changes, I like many, was still trying to decide what I wanted my career to look like and wondering where the best opportunity for me lay ahead.

The answer I found was: there is no bad opportunity, you just have to put yourself in the right room.

Let’s unpack that a little more…

The power of connecting with people and building the right network can have career-changing impacts. Pair that with a “take control” mindset and you can find yourself launching your next career opportunity.

Getting in the room

It takes personal grit to grow and reach your career goals. But growth also means you must be willing to adapt to each new environment. It can feel uncomfortable at times to enter a new room, whether that’s attending a professional development seminar, joining a Young Professionals group or by joining a Board of Directors. Personal growth is vital to a successful career. If you remain stagnant in your role, you’ll most likely never know your full potential. Surrounding yourself with ambitious peers and motivating mentors is an amazing step in your professional development. Not only will you learn the ropes of your field, but you’ll gain support of those around you to succeed. This support system is the best way to find new opportunities to challenge yourself and push you toward greater success in your career.

Taking these actions in building your network and support system will help you lay out a long-term plan for career development.

My effort to network is exactly how I met my now current employer. While that may seem like a “right place at the right time” moment, I dare to say it was much more strategic than that. I played an active role in my local Yong Professional organization and was introduced to the opportunity to take a leap of faith into a new role. Although new roles are always intimidating, it’s given me the opportunity to take a seat at the table with some of our company’s leaders and I’m always learning from our best.

Taking control of opportunities

Keeping your eyes open for opportunity is great practice when being an active player in your own career development. Goal setting is a great way to take control of identified opportunities, and setting a roadmap for yourself to reach your desired outcome. Not all career advances have to be big leaps, sometimes these small steps are the true turning point of a bigger opportunity. Sometimes that means taking steppingstone career moves while you set a foundation to perform at a higher level down the road. Taking on stretch projects outside of your job description is a great way to expand your skillset and knowledge base.

So maybe the question isn’t “Where do you see yourself in five years?” Maybe it’s “How can I create my own opportunity?” Take control of your career development and make sure you are in the right room, with the right people, and keeping your eyes open with a “yes” mindset. If you find yourself wanting change, it will rarely happen in your same seat.

The “Next Up” column series is a partnership between the Mississippi Gulf Coast Chamber of Commerce, Coast Young Professionals, and SuperTalk Mississippi. The views expressed by contributors are their own and not the views of SuperTalk Mississippi Media.

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