Young Alumni: How to keep things fresh and fulfilling at work

While much of the Class of 2022 is about to enter the professional world for the first time, many other Oles who graduated over the past few years are celebrating milestones at their jobs. For the young alumni who have finally settled into their current positions, some congratulations are in order: learning the ins and outs of a new organization and feeling confident in your role is no easy feat. The first few months, or even year, of a new job is a learning process. But what happens once you’ve gotten over that initial hurdle? 

Having a sense of stability and familiarity with your job is important and can feel rewarding. At the same time, you might be wondering how to keep things fresh at work. At its core, sustaining interest and growth in your position is about learning. Depending on your position, that might mean acquiring new skills, staying on top of industry trends, or collaborating across different teams. These types of learning opportunities will help you feel fulfilled by and connected to your work. 

To make space for these growth opportunities, it’s important to have your daily tasks mastered. Managing your day job efficiently will give you more time and energy to ask for assignments that stretch your skills and responsibilities. If you’re interested in expanding your role, talk with your supervisor about what you hope to gain and how to balance a new opportunity or project with your usual routine. Your supervisor also might have some of their own ideas about your options for mixing things up. Discuss what you find rewarding about your position and what you think might add to that sense of reward.

Then you’ll need to consider how you want to build upon your current role. New learning opportunities can take a number of forms, such as: 

  • Becoming part of a new initiative. Maybe your organization is spearheading a new project that you’re interested in. Ask your manager to get involved, even if it’s just a small part, as this can lead to further opportunities or new connections.
  • Taking a class. If you think learning a new skill or platform will help you to improve in your role, seek out courses online or in your community. Your organization may be willing to compensate you if they believe the course will allow you to positively expand on the work you’re doing. 
  • Gaining visibility into other areas of your organization. Networking with colleagues outside of your team can help expand your social circle at work as well as help you learn more about opportunities and projects to which you may want to contribute. 
  • Volunteering. If you’re satisfied with your job but looking for other meaningful ways to contribute to your community, volunteering is a great option. You could explore organizations that are doing work adjacent to your industry, or explore something else entirely. 

Once you’ve decided on the best fit, it’s up to you to put in the effort and attention needed to get the most out of your stretch assignment while completing your main tasks. Curiosity is key: in any learning situation, the more you ask questions and show genuine interest, the more you’ll discover about yourself and connect with others. 

Whether you’ve already found your dream job or are just getting used to your first position, there is always potential for novelty and growth. By taking the initiative to explore opportunities — big or small — you’ll be able to keep things fresh in your professional life and sustain enthusiasm for your work.

If you are in search of additional career advice and counseling, reach out to Piper Center Associate Director of Alumni Career Services Jenele Grassle. More resources and a link to book an appointment with Jenele are available on the Alumni Career Services page.