Entering the Workforce Series: Building purpose and finding happiness as you enter the workforce

By Sophia Tran

“You know what I got out of that internship? Terror. Absolute fear of spending the rest of my life looking like the people at the company.” I sat shocked at this admission as I listened to my friend share their working experience with me. 

  In the past year I have started to take notice of the relationships in the workplace. As an intern myself, I am incredibly appreciative of the opportunity to develop my professional experience while still in school. As I listened to my peers share their own experiences as interns, I realized that there seems to be a strong disconnect of corporate engagement and culture between interns and working professionals. Many seemed to be disillusioned by their experiences and often it brings a sense of despair and fear of the reality after leaving school. 

The result? Many are rejecting incredible job offers at these companies and are either choosing to continue pursuing graduate degrees or taking job positions that have fewer financial benefits but bring more sense of purpose and joy. In the U.S the number of graduate students have tripled since the 1970s and according to some estimates, 27% of employers now require master’s degrees for roles in which historically undergraduate degrees sufficed (HBR). 

The problem is that it might not be at no fault of each generation but of the situational circumstances that each era experiences in their own lifetime. Likewise, it seemed that many of the older working professionals  (baby boomers and Gen X) that I speak with are struggling to adapt and understand the millennial generation who are slowly growing in numbers in their company. 

I believe that companies have the principles and values that the millennial workforce are looking for yet fall short of recognizing and presenting the importance of the purpose in their work as well as the company’s care to continue to cultivate their employee’s success in a way that would energize and engage them.  Similarly, the millennial generation is incredibly sharp with the potential to persevere and add value to these companies, yet again fall short of displaying it. What can we do? How can we learn to find the excitement and joy in our working experiences while putting our best foot forward in these companies, showing them our fullest potential without feeling that our shortcomings are due to the lack of a graduate degree?

“Seek first to understand, then to be understood” – Stephen Covey

What we can do as the millennial generation  is to take that step forward and learn to understand ourselves better as a person in order to better communicate between generations in a way for others to see our potential and overall enhance our experience with others. In my next posts over the following weeks, I’ll be going through Harvard Business Review’s 10 Must Reads On Managing Yourself, which compiles articles focused on providing you the resources to tap into yourself to develop the habits of success and navigate your own personal life and avoiding decisions that undermine your goals in life. Learning how to self-manage yourself is an incredible tool to use (especially in this pandemic) to advance your growth and learn about the business environment. The book will cover how you can create positive influences on others, overcoming tough obstacles, leading a balanced life and much more.

 Sometimes one of the most difficult things about life is finding our purpose and the things that make us happy in our career, sometimes it just takes a little nudge to get us started on the right path. Everyone wants to lead a happy and fulfilling life, yet many do not reach that point in their career or cannot seem to maintain that balance. How will YOU fill out in your “Happiness is when…”? 

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