Developing a successful and fulfilling career takes years of intentionality and patience. The journey demands boldness, drive, and the faculty to find the joy in your day-to-day work. For better or worse, there’s no direct formula or pathway, but rather innumerable opportunities to advance yourself each step of the way.
An often overlooked resource when it comes to professional growth actually comes from outside the workplace. When looking for that next stepping stone in your career, consider getting involved within your community to take advantage of all of the professional and personal growth development options available. The Upstate is brimming with opportunities for personal growth that may be outside one’s normal work environment. Volunteering with local nonprofits is a great way to fulfill personal passions and goals, contributing to an overall sense of purpose and growth. Moreover, representing your company by serving on a nonprofit’s board can create networking opportunities and open doors to sharpen your leadership experience and public speaking.
Many also find that it’s helpful to surround themselves with like-minded individuals. Within your company, you may choose to find a mentor who can help you navigate your organization, as well as the ins and outs of the industry. As someone who has more experience than you, your mentor can help ensure you’re on the right trajectory, introduce opportunities for growth, and advocate on your behalf.
Others find that it’s helpful to speak with people closer to their own age. That’s one reason companies in the Upstate have recognized the benefits of young professionals groups, or community- or company-sponsored groups that allow for social engagement, professional development, and community involvement. These groups afford their members growth opportunities, allowing collaboration and creativity to flourish as each individual member is encouraged to contribute to the overall goal of the group. For example, Ten at the Top hosts an annual event called Pique that facilitates a gathering of Upstate young professional groups in order to “pique their interests for impacting our community and region.”
Not only do community engagement groups and mentorships like these allow you to strengthen your professional skills, but they provide a way to explore your interests. In doing so, you may discover passions or talents you weren’t aware of. They may inspire you to pursue an advancement you weren’t sure was right for you, or even to forgo a pay increase and move laterally within your company to develop a new skillset. In some cases, people may even switch industries in order to advance themselves and follow their passions. Regardless, exploring opportunities for growth requires a level of vulnerability and a leap of faith, but keep in mind that personal fulfillment should grow alongside professional advancement.
It’s also important to realize that not all companies have defined career paths, and in navigating yours, don’t wait for it to be outlined for you. Be clear with your managers about what you want, but don’t rush into a role just because the pay is greater or the title more “impressive.” Understand from your managers and mentors how they got to where they are, and meanwhile, become an expert in the job you have. If you fail to focus your energy in the right place, you may tarnish your reputation in your own role.
As you work to advance yourself, remember that your career isn’t just about the destination. Remain open to new possibilities and unexplored avenues, be bold in your dreams and your asks, and remember that the people most apt to help you are in your own backyard and workplace.
For more details about Pique, click here.
Ken Peterson is Senior Director of Human Resources at Greenville-based ScanSource, Inc. with 18 years of Human Resources experience and 12 years of Operations experience. He will be serving as a panelist at this year’s Pique young professional conference.
Jessica Miserendino is Import Manager at Duncan-based AFL and serves on the board of directors for Ten at the Top. She has also served as Professional Development committee chair for AFL’s Young Professionals group for the last 3 years.