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Career Advisory

If you're currently or considering working with a career counselor, how can you gather lasting benefits from the experience? There's no precise formula, but these tips will help make your voyage successful.

Think Participant, Not Recipient

When you work with a career counselor, you need to step into participant mode. You can't expect to just show up, pay and then get out of the way while the counselor does all the work. You're required to be an active member of the team; if you don't participate, your counseling experience will almost certainly end in disappointment.

Have Realistic Expectations

You may think career counselors have all the answers. They don't, but they can help you work toward finding your own answers. They simply can't pull them out of a box and hand them to you. Be Honest, Especially with Yourself

It's easy to talk yourself into feeling, thinking or saying something that really isn't genuine. It happens daily in career counseling sessions as clients try to fight off a host of outside pressures (it can be with family, friends, teachers, society as a whole) to make their own decisions.

Career counseling sessions give you a safe place and time to express what you're really struggling with in your career and in the rest of your life, too. But you have to be honest if you're to have any hope of really working through your challenges.

Know What You Want to Accomplish

When I'm working with clients, I often hear them say things like, "I just want to gain focus," or "I need to get some direction in my life." Such statements make sense, but as a counseling client, you need to work with your counselor to make your goals more specific.

Why? Without goals:

It would be too easy for you and your counselor to simply talk and talk and talk without going nowhere. You won't know when you're done with the counseling process. So if your counselor doesn't bring it up (although most will), insist that the two of you develop a plan for your work together. What exactly will you be doing, and why? And how will you know when you're finished?

It's OK to Think, But Do as Well

Thinking about your interests, skills, abilities, values, personality traits and goals is part of any career counseling process. But at some point, you need to kick start taking action, even if you don't have everything figured out.

Be Open to Challenge

Most career counselors will offer you support and an compassionate ear. But the very best will also challenge you. When your career counselor challenges you. For example, by telling you you're saying one thing but doing another he isn't trying to be annoying. He's simply trying to help you find your truth.

Be a Smart Consumer

It's possible that you and the counselor you choose won't click. That happens sometimes, and it's nobody's fault. But he can help you explore your options and make informed career decisions if you're willing to be an equal and genuine participant.

Good career choices are extremely important early in your career because you can set yourself up for success later on. Even though you might end up in a completely different career, the skills you acquire and the people you meet, are what will open the doors for you. The following are ten things that all millennials should do to get ahead in their careers:

1. Think of your career as a series of experiences. The most positive and intelligent way to look at your career isn't how long you stay with one employer or that you focus on what you majored in at college. You need to collect experiences throughout your careers, whether that be with five or ten employers, with one business function or five or in one country or three. The idea is that you need to be a lifelong learner if you want to make an impact, succeed and feel skillful. The experiences you have expand your world view, give you new perspectives and make you a more attention-grabbing person.

2. Don't settle for a job you're not passionate about. A lot of people are pushing college graduates to just get a job to pay the bills and that isn't the greatest advice because research shows that you won't last long there if you do. Furthermore, no smart company is going to have someone who is only there to make money because there's always someone else who wants it more. When you're passionate about your job, you're excited, you work longer hours and end up accomplishing much more. Life is too short to settle for a career that you hate!

3. Focus on making a big impact immediately. The quicker you make an impact in a company the more attention and support you will get. Millennials understand this well because they won't want to wait five years to get on a project where they can make this type of impact. Starting on day one, you have to learn as much as possible and start mastering your job so you can handle on to the bigger projects faster and prove yourself. By doing this, you will explode your career and become more valuable in your company, which will increase your pay, title and you'll get to work on better projects.

4. Take risks early and often in your career. One of the important lessons this economy has taught us is that not taking risks is risky. There is so much out of our control and if we just keep doing what we did yesterday, we can't get ahead. By taking a risk, you are putting yourself in a position to learn, whether you succeed or fail. You're also showing to your management that you're willing to put your reputation on the line to make things happen. As we become an ever more entrepreneurial society, those that take risks, both inside and outside of the corporate walls, will become more successful.

5. Spend more time with people than with your laptop. Students are plugged in and don't understand that he strongest relationship are formed in person, not online. We constantly see students looking down at their iPhones and iPad's instead of at people's faces and it's a missed opportunity. Soft skills will always become more appreciated in companies so it's important to plunge your technology and actually communicate with people. People hire you, not technology and you have to remember that!

6. Measure your work outcomes and build case studies. If you look at any student resume, they almost always look the same. They have the same fields (education, experience, school activities). Under their experience fields, they list a company and then general information such as "Managed XXX project". They dress up their experience bullets so they can turn unskilled tasks into something more marketable. The problem is that recruiters today, and especially in the future, are looking for outcomes. They want to know the numeric impact you're having on a company through your work, which means increasing revenue or decreasing costs. Always think about measuring your projects and keeping track of the results because that's what's going to help you give reason for promotions.

7. Sacrifice today to position yourself for tomorrow. You can't have everything you want today so you need to work hard to put yourself in a better position in the future. For example From 2007 to 2009, I put in over one hundred hours a week working on something I loved. As a result, now I have the freedom to do what I want, when I want. While others would have used that same time to go out every night and party, I realized the bigger picture and you can too. The more you do early in your career, the more it will pay off later in life and you will be thankful just like I am.

8. Start your own website to integrate your work profile. You need a single place where you can store everything you accomplish and that should be a website under your name ( By doing this, you can easily refer others to your work, whether it be hiring managers or for freelance projects. As you grow and develop your career, add new projects, education, skills and examples of your work to your website. Your website is a live resume that is always available to every one even when you're asleep.