Ashleigh Johnston, Consultant

For all my fellow young professionals out there, this one is for you. I’ve been reflecting on my job performance over the past year and I began to recognize a common theme. There were times when something would come across my desk that I proofed and sent back but really didn’t change much. Then there were times when something came across my desk and I really put myself out there. I changed the things I thought needed to be changed and owned what I was doing. Those were the times I felt the most pride in my work, but then why wasn’t I doing it consistently?

Maybe it’s just me, but I think sometimes when we’re just starting out our career, it can be intimidating to speak up. Maybe I knew the right answer, or had valuable input on a project, or an idea for a new venture but I second guessed myself because hey, what do I know? I suspect after talking to other young professionals that they’ve encountered the same situation so here is our pep talk.

The thing is, we wouldn’t be where we’re at if we weren’t qualified. We went through the process of interviewing, and we haven’t been fired (yet) so we must have some value. We have unique perspectives on what resonates, often because we’re the most active on social media where opinions are constantly being shared. Our schooling is fresh in our minds and although nothing compares with on-the-job experience, the theories and ideas our classes put in our head are fresh, relevant and probably something our more experienced colleagues have long forgotten or maybe never learned.

Job security is precious, and maybe that causes us to shy away from speaking up but you’ll never get noticed if you take a passive role. Be brave enough to speak up when you think you’re on the right track while still maintaining respect for your colleagues. The more ideas you offer, the better chance you have of being remembered when it comes time for a brainstorm, or when someone is seeking input.

The bottom line is, you went to school for a reason, you graduated because you earned it, you got the job because you were believed to be the best candidate so have the confidence to be bold and make changes.