5 Life Hacks for the Professional Millennial

Maija Ehlinger Main Contributor
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Since starting my first real world‘ job a year ago, Ive learned how to wake up to my 7am alarm, how to leave a professional sounding voicemail, and how to walk comfortably all day in heels. But Ive also messed up two expense reports and Ive awkwardly tripped down the hallway wearing such heels more times than I care to admit. 

For me, it has been a year of trial-and-error in this whole idea of being a professional‘ (a term I use lightly, because what could I possibly be pro” at as a 23 year old). But there are some important lessons I learned that I think can help you get through the first few years as a full-fledged, functional adult (although that seems like a very lofty goal at this point to any twenty-something). Check out my five Life Hacks for the Professional Millennial: 

1. You need a lot of business clothes and dont you ever pay full price for them. Walking into an office of beige pumps and tailored blouses will definitely make you step up your fashion game. But that doesnt mean that you should spend your entire first paycheck at Macys or J. Crew to fit into the work culture. With a little online digging or a bit of time at Buffalo Exchange, you can find work-acceptable clothes without the steep price tag. Your bank account will thank you, and honestly no one will know the difference when you are sitting in your staff meeting.

2. Use social media for work. Ok, maybe you shouldnt Facebook stalk your ex while on the clock. But using the power of social media in your career is actually highly encouraged. Twitter doesnt have to be just about voicing frustrations about your commute to the office (#ATLTraffic). Social media is a great way to connect with professionals and companies you admire. Plus, you never know what opportunities are out there once you connect. Some smaller companies post job openings and  insight into networking opportunities in your area. Or you might be able to connect with people who are in your dream‘ career. People love talking about their work, so reach out and see where it takes you. 

3. Make at least one older friend at your office. They know the way to the secret back room where they hold the good coffee. They also know a lot of people, so spend some time learning how they got to where they are now. 

4. Make at least one friend your own age. You need a partner-in-crime who understands the struggle of Friday morning meetings after a Thursday girls night out. In fact, Ive found that it is the most essential of partnerships in surviving cubicle life. 

 5. Do something outside the box‘. You probably arent looking to stay in your entry-level job forever. Your first position is a stepping stone, and as you look for ways to build your resume and skill sets, it isnt enough just to impress your boss. People want to hire engaging, interesting people; so volunteer, play a sport youve never played, take improv classes. If you are feeling adventurous, try to develop an app (emphasis on try – you really dont have to succeed), or write poetry in your spare time. During your next interview, you can talk about innovation, creativity and your can-do‘ attitude. And that sounds a lot more impressive than I can use Excel really well.” 

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