Humility In New Graduates and Not Letting Age or Experience Stand In Your Way
I’ve talked about the attractiveness of humility. I try to exercise it in my daily life and leave behind the attitude of boasting and scoffing that I see far too often.
So when I found an article in the Boise Job Search Examiner discussing the importance of new graduates practicing humility I was interested. The author, Jayna Wiesemann, tells a story about an intern who hasn’t yet graduated, but has been talking about the kind of jobs he will be applying and looking for upon graduation. He is applying for management positions and doesn’t want to back down or “consider the possibility that he may not be qualified.”
Wiesemann goes on to say, “Your degree? It doesn’t make you special. It makes you employable in an entry level position and until you gain a little humility and a whole lot of work ethic to go with that degree you aren’t going to have much success.”
I understand Wiesemann’s angle and I strongly believe in understanding your experience level. I talk about the importance of internships (even if they’re unpaid) and that everyone must start somewhere. From first glance it even sounds like this intern is stubborn and not open-minded about his job search, which isn’t a good sign.
However, all else aside…I disagree. I disagree about the glass ceiling that often is placed on graduates and so I disagree with Wiesemann’s only entry-level opportunity viewpoint for new grads. Startups and entrepreneurial situations offer the opportunity to jump into management or even running your company, no matter your age or experience.
It debunks the real-world experience myth and understand what settling really means. I had a management role in college. For almost two years I helped run an event team, execute and plan small to large-scale events of up to almost 1000 people. Just me, the 21-year old. So my bar was set higher when I graduated yet I was realistic.
My current position was written as requiring 3-7 years experience with an M.B.A. I had neither. I had just graduated college. I reached high and no, I’m not a VP of the company, but I didn’t consider my lack of qualifications, I considered my intelligence, passion and drive.
What about Rebecca Thorman, who at age 23 was Executive Director of MAGNET, a young professional organization. These stories are everywhere.
Age and Experience Don’t (Always) Determine Your Success
I practice humility, I say “I don’t know,” when I don’t and I like asking for more responsibility and potentially talk about owning my own company. Maybe that’s in a few years when I still probably won’t have “enough” experience but mistakes are to be made.
The ‘green,’ ‘young,’ or ‘inexperienced’ factor didn’t stop Mark Zuckerberg, Dustin Moskovitz and Chris Hughes with Facebook, Bill Gates with Microsoft, Steve Jobs with Apple, Sergey Brin with Google and Max Levchin with PayPal. That’s right, they all started billion dollar companies before they were 25.
This doesn’t mean their success stories will be yours. But they’re all true stories, so why not if you want it? I believe humility is important, but I also tout promoting and believing in yourself. Don’t limit yourself to only apply to entry level jobs. You may be surprised you land the interview of a dream position. Even if you feel it’s ‘out of your league’ you could set yourself up for learning, new mentors and growth.
Penelope Trunk says, “The jobs that are the most fun are where our learning curve is high but we still achieve results,” and that you should reach for a job way above you. If you fail, try other positions. Be open and most importantly, “have a realistic idea of your skillset.”
Wil Schroter, Founder of Go Big Network expounds on this idea: “Being young provides a period of your life where you get double the points if you succeed and lose no points if you fail. What you’ll learn later in life is that this opportunity is almost never offered again.”
Lesson Learned: Be realistic. Reach high. Recent grads, don’t opt only for the entry level positions. Do you have a story where you ‘skipped a career step,’ surprised yourself, started your own company or even had someone doubt you because of your lack of experience or young age? Share here, I think we may surprise not only ourselves, but each other.