Convocation is a momentous day — one that can be equal parts exhilarating and frightening. After all, it’s the culmination of years of hard work and the start of a new chapter.
As Ryerson students prepare to take their first steps into post-graduation life, this month’s Alumni Blog reflects on some key career-related lessons (for new grads and seasoned professionals, alike) that I have picked up since graduation.
Act today, for tomorrow
You’ve likely heard the cliché, “dress for the role you want.” While I would certainly advocate for this, consider this variation: “tailor your actions for the role you want.” In my experience, demonstrating an inherent tendency to offer value beyond that which your position requires can help accelerate growth within your organization and more broadly. Think of how your manager would handle the next challenge that comes your way or what competencies you need to hone to secure that promotion. Consistently going above and beyond is not easy; especially if you’re not recognized for it. It’s a mindset shift and an investment in your future. If you want to become indispensable and advance your career, show your employer you’re up for the challenge. This way, when opportunities become available, your hat is already in the ring. And if for whatever reason your employer doesn’t value your efforts, leverage this experience to secure a position at a company that does. Don’t ever cease to do your best because someone doesn’t notice. First and foremost, make yourself proud.
A good idea is just the beginning
Bringing fresh and innovative ideas to the table is one way to make an impact at any organization, but consider what comes next. The best ideas remain just that — ideas — when the resources or processes to make them happen aren’t properly mobilized. If you’re going to pitch an idea, be prepared to champion it and do what it takes to bring it to life. It might mean getting your hands a little dirty, taking on tasks that don’t traditionally fall within your remit or even unexpectedly jumping into a leadership role. Bottom line — be the one who not only presents a great idea; be the one to make it happen.
Your organization may function like a well-oiled machine, but the reality is, issues are bound to arise in any workplace. Whether they’re related to a specific task, individual or an operational gap, how you handle those challenges can make or break your success. When raising problems to your manager or team, make it a habit to accompany that issue with a solution or at least lay the groundwork to start working towards one. Initiate a dialogue on next steps and how to avoid or mitigate similar challenges moving forward. Your manager doesn’t necessarily expect you to have all the answers, but showing you can do more than bring them problems to address will demonstrate proactiveness and leadership.
Hustle. Persevere. Repeat.
Whether you’re a recent grad looking to land your first job or a seasoned professional keen to make a move — be willing to put in the work and be patient. It’s easy to settle or stick to what’s comfortable and convenient. But if you believe you’re capable of achieving and contributing something more, be relentless in your pursuit and don’t let a few disappointing outcomes discourage you. Our bloggers often reference the value of networking, attending industry events and being active on LinkedIn. No matter your career stage, continue to build your network and leverage your Ryerson connections. Join an alumni group or chapter, stay in touch via our LinkedIn group and consider giving back (whether it’s speaking engagements or mentorship). It’s tried and true advice, but you never know how the right connection could shape your career trajectory. Be open and alert to these opportunities — or they could pass you by.
Tanya Kostiw (MA, Literatures of Modernity ’13) is the editor of the Alumni Blog and the Marketing and Communications Liaison for the Ryerson University Alumni Association’s Board of Directors. She is the Associate Creative Director at Mayk Ideas.