Dear First Gen,
Starting a new job can bring anxiety and excitement. You may be anxious because you want to perform your absolute best and do not want to mess up. You may feel excitement because you went on countless interviews, submitted hundreds of resumes, reached out to your contacts to have them put in a good word, and maybe had the church and your parents praying for you––I know I did!
But at long last, after all the “no”s, you heard a “yes”! After the final interview, you received a phone call where you were offered the position and you knew you probably shouldn’t scream, but you kind of wanted to.
In November 2017, I started a new job as a policy director and said a bittersweet farewell to my chief of staff role with a state senator. I was with the senator for 4 years and I will definitely miss it. But it was time for me to make a transition—I needed to rise to new challenges and experiences.
In my new role, I have learned three things that are important for a new hire. Not only do you have your own goals to reach but also you have all eyes on you until you’ve proven yourself. In my case, my orientation was around the holidays so there were fewer meetings and tasks to complete, but I knew peak season was approaching.
I wish I were told about these three suggestions before I started, but I am glad I picked them up during my first 30 days. People are watching you even when you think they are not. Your actions, decisions, and methods are under observation because they chose you and it's up to you now to prove that they made the right decision. But don't forget to have fun and start building relationships in your new role. You worked hard for it and have waited to get the perfect offer. Embrace this new opportunity!
Dear First Gen,
On December 21, @DeltaProtectiveServices posted a video to Facebook of their interview with @Simon Sinek, who presented on the challenge of working with millennials. After watching this video, I posted three reasons I didn't think it fully described first-generation professionals.
I will elaborate on my facebook post that addressed Sinek's comment on the first factor that describes Millennials. Sinek defines millennials as individuals born in 1985 and up, and says that they are difficult to manage at work, act entitled, are self-interested, lazy, and unfocused. Yet he also points out that they are motivated by wanting to work for purpose or make an impact.
He credits "failed parenting strategies" for millennials being challenging to work with.
Statement: "Told special, all the time".
Response: We are bred to believe we are special but not in the manner to make us feel entitled (or an amazing gift to the world). Our parents tell us that we have the tools and knowledge to learn and develop into the adults that will allow us to accomplish and reach our dreams. We are elevated to believe that we have the capability to succeed so long as we are determined and make an effort.
Statement: "Can have anything they want in life, just because they want it."
Response: We did not grow up being told we could have anything we wanted because we wanted it. Many #firstgens wanted the basic necessities and wished for them. We were happy to have them. There are first-generation Americans that may have wanted their own room, toys or gadgets, or new clothes rather than hand me downs or sewed.
Statement: "Some got into honors classes not because deserved it, but because the parents complained. Some got A's not because they earned it, but because the teachers did not want to deal with the parents."
Response: We received or earned our grades and did not have parents with clout to switch them. Our #parents generally trusted the teachers and worked with them to improve our grades. We were nervous to receive any bad reports from teachers because our parents did not think the teachers would mislead them about their child's education or progress so we were diligent with our studies.
Statement: "Some got medals for participation, not for winning. They received it because it would make them feel embarrassed and did not want them to feel worse."
Response: We did not get a pat on the back or a high-five unless it was complete and total win. Second place winners were rarely congratulated or even spoken of in the home. Feeling bad about a loss was not allowed, and we did not get time to mope. Rather we had to jump back in and work hard for the next victory.
He also attributes "environment and surroundings" as a reason for difficulty interacting with millennials at work.
Dear First Gen,
Joy Weber (a featured first gen) shared a piece of advice for first gens that want to meet people outside of their network: Consider reaching out to people via LinkedIn, even if you’ve never been introduced to them before. This is a great idea!
You may have met someone at an event that you have finally found the courage to attend, or overheard someone else talking about this individual. In either situation, this person piqued your curiosity and you want to learn more about them, but you do not have a way to contact them. When it comes to individuals you don’t know, reach out to them for an in-person informational meeting. If the person has a busy calendar and you are unable to coordinate a meeting time, then you can opt for a phone conversation. When that’s the case, LinkedIn is a good place to start! A friend called @LinkedIn, "Facebook for Professionals".
Log in to your account (or create an account), and then perform a search of the person’s name to find out if you have mutual contacts. If you don’t, that’s OK—you may still be able to network with that individual. It is scary and you may not know where to begin but let me suggest two approaches.
"Women do not belong there," can you imagine a time when women were denied admission to law school?!
(I recently watched a movie on the Suffrage Movement and was shocked by what they lost to fight for their right to vote - families, children, friendships and employment!)
This featured first gen is a young, outstanding attorney who is rising in her firm. She is the only female member of the Legislative and Government Relations Group in her office and amazes each person she meets.
1. What is your name?
2. What is your current occupation?
Government Relations Attorney
3. What is your education background?
Bachelor of Arts in Art/Psychology from Penn State University and Regents University School of Law. (Any and all passions are welcome in the field of law.)
4. What is your family background?
Mom, Dad, and two younger brothers. I am now married with one son.
5. Do you have any "firsts" recognized by your family?
First to attend and graduate from law school.
6. How were you able to achieve them?
Hard work. Willingness to take risks. Support of my family.
7. What was your biggest obstacle or challenge to become the first in your family?
I remember being bummed that my mom and dad could no longer be the authority on the law school process. I reached out to my extended family and used them as a resource.
8. What advice would you give to a first-generation student who is seeking to become a first-generation professional in the U.S.?
Utilize LinkedIn! Don't hesitate to reach out to people who are where you hope to be. Buy someone a coffee and ask them to tell you how they got to where they are.
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Dear First Gen,
Recently, I had a conversation with a fellow first gen and we were sharing our opinions on the proper dress code for work. Depending on the home you were raised in, you may not have grown up with parents who wore “professional” attire. For example, my mom is a Registered Nurse so her uniform was scrubs, a stethoscope and comfortable footwear; my father works in IT so he is expected to wear a dress shirt or polo shirt and dress pants. They dressed me well before I went to school or church growing up, but when I was grown and getting dressed for a business office, where did I learn?
Dear First Gen,
Summer is officially here!
Many businesses, government agencies, and nonprofits hire interns to help them during the summer, and it is most certainly an invaluable experience. I have had my fair share of internships/externships before I obtained full-time employment in 2012. My internship experience extends beyond the standard one-page resume! Over the next few months, my blog posts will touch on the various ways to make the best of your summer break as well as the start of your (first) job. Click on the video to find out what is in store for you this summer.
Tell me: What do you want to learn more about this summer?