April 29, 2024 3 min read

Occasionally, you might question your career path and wonder if you’ve chosen the right field. How come everyone else seems to adapt and unearth deeper insights? Are they more qualified to address problems with fresh perspectives because they see things you don’t? Were they simply more fortunate because they’ve had a more fruitful journey? If you’re falling behind, maybe it’s time to start absorbing knowledge and learning from those around you. In Stefan Lindegaard’s LinkedIn article, Personal and Professional Growth: Tips for Young Professionals, he says mentors use their professional experience and expertise to offer guidance and support to those seeking it. If you’re not ready to contact your professional connections on LinkedIn, have you considered asking your friends?

Friends

Post-secondary programs can be grueling. At some point, you’ll gravitate toward classmates with similar interests. As these friendships grow and you overcome stressful assignments, successes, and failures, don’t hesitate or be afraid to ask for help. If a friend has a connection on social media, an internship lined up, or real-world experience you could learn from – be a sponge. Ask questions and soak up all the information you can. Try to “Stay in touch with classmates and colleagues” because while you’re pushing through the program and trying to break into a profession, they will be too. Keep those lines of communication open. Cultivate these relationships because you never know which insights you share or learn will help your journey.

Colleagues

Reality check. Everyone you meet won’t be the chairperson of your fan club. Some colleagues will remain acquaintances you never socialize with outside of group projects. Remember, there are no rules when it comes to learning because you can learn from anyone who possesses knowledge you don’t. Stefan Lindegaard says, “Learn through collaboration.” Teamwork and collaboration are essential skills instilled in any educational program, which you’ll need to learn before you leave the safety of classrooms and lecture halls. Collaborating with others will teach you how to approach problems, develop new skills and build your network. 

Another nugget of wisdom from Stefan Lindegaard is to “Seek out multiple perspectives” because colleagues may have learned from experiences you haven’t had yet. Don’t underestimate the value of your friends and colleagues’ experiences. Learning to see things from new angles can often develop perspectives you can draw from for inspiration.

Mentors

Do your homework before you approach a mentor. Although you may know what you want to achieve to succeed, your mentor must understand your objectives so they can give you the support you need. In other words, you must “Be clear about your goals” with whomever you choose. “Look for someone with relevant experience.” like a professor you’ve developed a rapport with. The professional relationships you cultivate are precious as each act like a conduit allowing you to reach through channels you once thought you wouldn’t have access to. Once you’ve found a mentor who understands your goals and is willing to help, it’s time to be a sponge again. Your mentor will provide the guidance and support you need, but it’s up to you to listen and apply what you’ve learned to make things happen.

Oscar Wilde once said, “With age comes wisdom, but sometimes age comes alone.” While wise words may not be comforting when building a foundation for your future, you can make the saying work to your benefit. Start by recognizing that your friends, colleagues, and professors don’t project or personify success any more than you do. In Samantha Harrington’s Forbes article titled, How To Learn From People Around You (Even If They Have Different Views), Samantha says hearing how someone learned a lesson is more powerful than their takeaway. Keep that in mind when you ask friends, colleagues and professors about their journeys. If you’re sincere and absorb their words and knowledge, you might learn something valuable to help you along the way.


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