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Check Your Status at the Door: Get on the Career Map

Regina Cash-Clark -- As Millennials outpace Baby Boomers and become a major force in the workplace, they're reshaping the work climate and how to find meaningful career pursuits.

One of the upsides of coming through a down economy has been that it's forced some to re-think how we view ourselves and those around us. The result? Many have had to trade financial security and traditional status symbols for more meaningful, albeit less lucrative pursuits.

Quid pro the status quo?

Of course, to the Internet-savvy Millennial, status has more to do with your social media presence (married, single, it's complicated) than your financial one. So, as the times change, we may no longer be defined simply by what we have—our 9-to-5, our wardrobe, our car—or even by whether we rent or own a home. Those newly entering the workforce, largely Millennials, have become major players in that paradigm shift. And that shift has the power to impact the workforce, and our work climate, for generations to come.

A more creative generation

According to a September 2015 report by the Pew Research Center, Millennials are slated to become the nation's largest living generation, soon to outpace aging Baby Boomers. And in terms of values, an October 2014 report by The Council of Economic Advisors found that Millennials are less materialistic as a group, valuing ties to family, as well as community, over the possible trappings of wealth. They also look for a little something more, creativity, in their work life. And they're not alone. What does that mean for you?

What's it to you?

Follow that lead... Others are jumping on the millennial bandwagon, and it's easy enough to follow suit. When it comes to career decisions and progress, you can join in by following the lead(s) of those who have had and are having success at what you want to do. Study them, "follow" them (on places like LinkedIn), and even talk to them, if you have access. Just as importantly, learn from their mistakes. What didn't work? How did they handle failure? What caused them to turn things around? We can all learn by following the leads of those who've excelled at their craft. Just make sure to keep your own personal principles intact during the process. That way, you'll know where and when to draw the line, if necessary.

Getting on the map

So, make your career pursuits, your passion, a part of everything you do, even away from the (virtual or real) office. Whether you own your own small business or are looking for work, you can find meaningful ways to get on the local map and beyond by serving your community in unique and helpful ways. If you have a small business, you can sponsor a little league team, buy a few seats at a fundraiser table, or even host a charity function in your space. If you're between jobs or have more free time than money to offer, volunteering is a great option. Try an organization like VolunteerMatch that can connect you with causes in need. It helps to think outside the cubicle.

Regina Cash-Clark is a writer and an associate professor of journalism at a state college where she teaches courses in writing and journalism as a full-time professor. She previously worked in the publishing and magazine industries as a writer and editor.

© 2016 Regina Cash-Clark

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