Reflections of a Young Professional: So this is Real Life

Elise Crispen, who by day works for Sacramento's own 3fold Communications, is member of Metro EDGE's events and networking committee. She recently wrote a blog for 3fold about her experience as a young professional and they're letting us "borrow" it for your reading pleasure. Enjoy!

Having recently embarked on my professional career, I must say work life is very little of what I expected – in a positive way. Landing the job I had always envisioned was exhilarating, but I have to say my preconceived expectations of the cut-throat business world would keep me awake at night.

I soon realized though, the dog-eat-dog environment I was expected to reluctantly assimilate into is actually a lifestyle choice and not the only way to make a successful living. Don’t get me wrong, as a former NCAA Division I athlete, competitive spirit runs through my veins and “better, faster, stronger” is always the mantra, but an intense corporate culture is not a universal standard. It is possible to feed off the energy of your co-workers, to support and be supported, and to foster the healthy optimism essential to happiness and productivity. Phew! Huge relief!

Aristotle had it right when he said “the more you know, the more you know you don’t know” and this became apparent rather quickly. There is a confidence and momentum that comes from mastering college — academically, socially and athletically — and this energy and drive you feel as a college student ready to graduate and take the world by storm, can be hard to uphold in the next stage of professional life.

Our imaginations and passions to succeed have been cultivated for years by inspiring professors, other ambitious students and supportive parents who themselves make climbing the corporate ladder look easy (if this doesn’t sound like you in your college years, it’s okay, it’s a millennial thing).

But the reality is the workforce, or “real world,” is a different breed of motivation, knowledge and experience. You realize you’ve barely scratched the surface of what it means to be well-informed and ultimately your academic experience and accomplishments are overshadowed by the portfolios and brain-trusts of your professional co-workers. The reality of being a rookie in the workforce is a very humbling experience.

But, amongst feeling new and inferior, don’t let yourself fade into the background. Use this opportunity to remember as a young professional, we are far from unnecessary or useless in the work place. We are self-expressive and very well-connected (most likely due to growing alongside our social media culture). We believe there must be a solution to every challenge and with some direction we will self-start and use our resources to find the answer. We are eager to learn and not afraid to ask questions when we don’t understand. We are technologically savvy and justifiably skeptical. We bring a fresh perspective, a clean slate and an enthusiastic attitude — we get after it. We may not know it all, but we catch on quickly. Besides, we live in a digital world where nearly every answer can be found at a touch, swipe or click.

Each young professional’s experience varies, but the thing we can all agree upon is the future of professionalism currently lies in the hands of myself and millions of others like me. Keep an eye out for our growing presence and influence because, ready or not, we are here.