Take a look around at your fellow classmates during your next lecture. Who are the ones that seem to always be on top of things, who are the ones coming up with the great ideas? The ones who seem to always be meeting and connecting people? These are the ones you should stick around or at least keep in your good graces.
Think of college as practice for the real world. Get in the mode of opening your eyes a little wider to recognize the leaders now. The ones who are making a splash now are most likely going to be the ones to go on and do great things. They have a knack or talent for creating big ideas, executing ideas or simply connecting people and if you don't have one or all of these, these are good people to know.
I like to think of myself as a bit of an overachiever and I joined tons of clubs, was on student council, volunteered for everything and took the lead on projects. Of course, these are all the tried-and-true ways of getting ahead. They definitely help you, but I learned a tad late that there are other, more nimble ways of getting to the same place. One of those ways is training yourself how to look for talent and follow it.
A perfect example in my own life is my current role. A few colleagues of mine inspired me, but there was one in particular who I thought just seemed to be quite charismatic and really good at many things such as presenting, storytelling and communication in general. I was at a pivotal point in re-thinking my next career move, when I decided to start having lunch with some of the colleagues I admired and asking their advice. One of those colleagues turned out to be the future VP of my group, although I had no idea this would be true at the time.
At our lunch, I got wonderful advice from her. She explained how she had navigated her career and being proactive was one thing she always strived to do. At the end of our conversation, she asked me if there was one person I would work for on her team, who would it be? I told her the person and a few weeks later our team was re-organized and guess who my new boss was? I was under my new boss for about six months when I also received a promotion. I worked hard, like I had always done, but the difference was I had someone fighting for me and pushing me to excel that much more.
You can chalk it up to putting yourself in the right place at the right time, but I don't think of it like that . I like to think that I have a certain idea of the trajectory I want in my mind and I try to look to others to help me fill in the gaps, whether it is through their advice, mentorship or connection. Remember too that leaders are never alone and their success is a factor of the company they keep, so be that company. Keep this in mind not only at work, but in your circle of friends and within the organizations and groups you are a part of . You might be surprised where it will land you in the future.
About the Author
As the senior marketing analyst at Yahoo, Sarah is responsible for the implementation of audience-centric research solutions, including 'mom research' and insights around women & CPG more generally. Prior to joining Yahoo!, Sarah has been involved in the digital industry for several years, with experience not only on the publisher side but also on the digital agency side; strategizing with the likes of MediaCom and Carat on their audience segmentation analysis. Sarah holds a Bachelor's degree in Advertising & Marketing from Drake University and currently resides in New York City. She also holds prominent positions in industry organizations such as The Ad Club of New York and Advertising Women of New York (AWNY).