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They told me I was too young

What is it like to be a young professional trying to earn respect.

I am a young professional, only 24 years old but that does not mean I am unprofessional.

It is clear from my photo above that I am young. What is not clear from the photo above is who I am, my professionalism or intelligence.

Being a young professional working in the tech space is not uncommon. The discussion around millennials is a hot topic in our news today. We won’t be able to afford houses because of our addiction to avocados. We are described in many different ways, most of them do not speak of our professionalism but more the lack of.

At HubSpot, my role is to educate and inspire people about email marketing, contacts and automation. More often than not I find myself at the front of a room, stage or onlookers. My professionalism needs to be clear in the first few words I say or I will be lose my crowd, those I am trying to inspire.

In these moments I turn to Steve Martin who said, “Be so good they can’t ignore you”. I use this as inspiration when I feel the questionable faces of those in front of me doing the math of when I graduated from college.

I am a young professional, only 24 years old but that does not mean I am unprofessional. The way people live and work is changing. No longer is it the norm to go from undergrad to graduate school. Young professionals are educated, driven and moving faster than we have ever seen before.

In an article written by Heather Long for CNN Money found that,

“A new study by networking site LinkedIn found that young people really do change jobs a lot more than their parents did. The new normal is for Millennials to jump jobs four times in their first decade out of college. That’s nearly double the bouncing around the generation before them did.”

We are moving fast. Taking chances and embracing the always be learning culture.

Our resumes, LinkedIn or Glassdoor profiles look different than they would have even 10 years ago but it is not a reflection of lack of intelligence but of our drive.

If you are a young professional looking to succeed I have detailed below five tips on embracing your professionalism in today’s culture.

5 tips to embracing professionalism

  1. There is a time and place for leggings
  2. Update your LinkedIn (Glassdoor, Resume etc.) frequently
  3. Find mentors (as many as possible)
  4. Research, watch and learn
  5. Be confident in who YOU are

There is a time and place for leggings

Yes, you read that correctly. There is a time and place for your leggings (or casual pants) and it is not your career. I will admit to breaking this rule a few times inside of HubSpot when I walked into work wearing my comfy leggings and workout tops but it should be far and few between.

Dressing for the job you want is no joke. Maybe in 2017 this doesn't mean heels and a dress but it does meaning looking nice, clean and professional. Looking for inspiration? Check out Pinterest here for some ideas.

Update your LinkedIn

This is an important one. We are changing jobs more often than any other generation. Keep your information updated, you never know when you will be looking (or someone looking for you).

Use LinkedIn as a way to showcase what you are working on and networking consistently. Add more to your LinkedIn than just the jobs you’ve had. What Certifications do you have? What articles are you liking? Who are you following? Open up the door to explore what is happening in the work force. You can check out my LinkedIn here for how I do it.

Find mentors (as many as possible)

This might seem like an obvious one but I truly mean as many as possible. I have mentors for more than just my career. A mentor doesn’t have to be someone you work with, it could be a friend, your mother, even a professional career counselor.

Find people that inspire you and learn from them. One of the most important mentors in my life is my mother. Not because she is my mom and loves me unconditionally but because of her career and everything that I have learned from her.

Research, watch and learn

It might feel a little like you are back in school but researching what you are passionate about can be a huge leg up in your career.

Watching what others in the industry are doing can help define what you are passionate about and make the tough decisions of what comes next. It is my strong belief that you truly can never be over educated or over dressed. Always be learning and embrace learning from others.

Be confident in who YOU are

There is no one in this world like you. The biggest challenge we will have in our lives is staying true to who we are when everything around us tell us to be like others.

There is no one in this world like you. Stay true to yourself.

You are not going to be exactly like those you look up to, we are not all going to be Mark Zuckerberg unfortunately. But being unique is going to be the best thing you do for your career and being professional. I will be honest people can see when you are bullshitting them and there is nothing more unprofessional than a liar.

I encourage you to find your voice, your unique take on the world and be as confident as you can with it.

These tips have helped guide me in the last two years at HubSpot and reminding myself of them each day force me to become a better professional, person and leader.

In closing remember that, “Being a leader doesn’t require a title and having a title doesn't make you one.”

Interested in hearing me speak? Join me at HubSpot Training Day at INBOUND17 this year. I will be teaching a class called Developing an Inbound Email Strategy.

I am currently an Inbound Professor at HubSpot and educate and inspire people on contacts management, email marketing, email automation, lead scoring, segmentation and workflows. Looking for advice, resume editing or general discussion around career or life decisions please reach out to me at:csembler@hubspot.com