Advice from a young professional

Sep 17, 2023

Whether you love your job and want to get to the next level or if you’re feeling unsatisfied in your current position, these tips may help gain perspective.

Lately, it seems that I’ve had an increasing number of conversations with my peers about their challenges at work. What stands out to me the most is that usually, the first attempt at a solution is to look for a new job. I’m not the only one who has noticed this. In the past 10 years, our workforce has experienced a complete shift in company loyalty. According to a recent Gallup poll, my observation is confirmed by the new title that millennials have earned: “the job-hopping generation.”

While there are many factors that may make leaving a company the best decision for you, this isn’t necessarily a positive title for our generation. The same poll revealed that previous generations are more likely to stay in their current jobs and companies by a full 10 percent. With our quickly changing world, many have become accustomed to instant gratification, which has led to an epidemic of disengaged employees. While it is satisfying to see immediate results for your efforts, this simply isn’t a sustainable model for our lives, and it certainly isn’t always applicable to our jobs (as much as I’d like it to be). If we relied on instant gratification for everything, I’m sure we could name several endeavors we would’ve quit already – or maybe already did (I’m looking at you, New Year’s fitness resolutions).

While I still have much to learn, here a few thoughts for my fellow young professionals to consider. Whether you love your job and want to get to the next level or if you’re feeling unsatisfied in your current position, these tips may help you gain perspective. Putting a young-professional spin on the classic “pro tip” phrase, below are some “yo-pro tips” to consider:

  1. Find a mentor. While it may be difficult at first, prioritize finding a more seasoned individual either in your field or outside of it to mentor you. Those who have lived longer and experienced more can offer unique input and perspectives. Most people are happy to share their experiences with you if you ask. There are even programs that exist solely to pair you with a mentor, so consider finding and enrolling in one of those. If you’re more on the introverted side of the scale, it may help you to have a more structured approach to kick-off this type of relationship. You may even already know someone who would make a good mentor.
    Once you have one, lean in and establish a rhythm for meeting. When you do meet, consider having an agenda. This doesn’t need to be formal unless that’s just your style, but be sure to cover your most pressing questions to make the most of the limited time you both have.
    Lastly, and most importantly, be ready to listen and give due consideration to what your mentor has to say. After all, that is the reason you sought one in the first place. Like a good friend with your best interests in mind, mentors provide valuable and honest feedback. While it isn’t always the easiest to hear, it’s essential to our growth and development. Positive feedback is important for boosting morale, and who doesn’t love a genuine compliment? But constructive criticism can be the most impactful to your development on a professional and personal level.
  2. Shift your focus. First, stop complaining. Not only does complaining affect your attitude, it also impacts the attitude of the ears that your thoughts fall on. Your concerns may be valid but be sure to have the right audience by complaining “up” – mentors or supervisors are good options. After all, if all you do is complain, you’ve just become a part of the problem even though that may not be what you intended.
    Second, stop comparing. It may be clichéd, but the grass isn’t always greener on the other side; it’s green where you water it. Invest where you are right now and embrace the fact that it’s a marathon rather than a sprint. Sure, it isn’t always the easiest or quickest road to the “top,” but the most rewarding experiences never are, are they? Consider some of your biggest accomplishments – such as graduating college or getting your licensure – which were most likely neither easy nor quick. Instead of thinking, “Why can’t they change?” try thinking, “What can I do to change?” If we’re honest with ourselves, we might be in need of an attitude adjustment (I’ve been there, too). Once we get that worked out, there may be some suggestions we can make for our organization’s leadership to consider. Remember, your perspective is important!
  3. Be the best. As impressive as they may be, fancy diplomas and the never-ending letters behind our names don’t earn us the right to be heard. Make it your top priority to be the absolute best at your current position and earn a right to have your opinion heard. If your personal goals include advancing up the ladder, make it a no-brainer for your organization’s leadership to promote you. Your manager (and/or mentor) should be able to give you practical and actionable ways to improve and reach your goals – just remember that it takes time. Your development may include additional certifications/licensures or opportunities for external leadership programs. At Croy, we regularly utilize external programs to provide exposure to leadership development that we aren’t able to provide internally. Even if you do end up changing jobs, you won’t regret giving it your all.
    Furthermore, going the extra mile is a core value at Croy. Stepping up and pitching in is a part of being a team player. Putting the best interest of your organization ahead of your own shows leadership that your intentions are in line with their needs. You’ll be more likely to earn their trust and, in time, more responsibility.

So, if you’re a young professional, take a moment to reflect. Do companies have room for improvement when it comes to culture or their retention efforts? Certainly. If we’re realistic with ourselves, we should never stop improving and the same can be applied to firms. But have you considered that perhaps you are the change that they’ve been looking for? Is there anything you can influence first before immediately changing jobs?

For those in a leadership position, consider the example you’re setting for the young professionals in your organization or community. How do you think your actions and words affect those who look up to you? Also, consider the thoughts and perspectives of your younger team members. Find ways to reward their loyalty and efforts to improve themselves and your organization.

As a young professional, if we find a mentor, shift our focus, and commit to being the best in the roles we currently have, we can learn how to be engaged and contribute to our organizations in meaningful and impactful ways. 

Luci Hogue serves as the senior communications specialist at Croy. She can be reached at

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Zweig Group, three times on the Inc. 500/5000 list, is the industry leader and premiere authority in AEC firm management and marketing, the go-to source for data and research, and the leading provider of customized learning and training. Zweig Group exists to help AEC firms succeed in a complicated and challenging marketplace through services that include: Mergers & Acquisitions, Strategic Planning, Valuation, Executive Search, Board of Director Services, Ownership Transition, Marketing & Branding, and Business Development Training. The firm has offices in Dallas and Fayetteville, Arkansas.