2017 HBCU Careers Magazine

HBCU Careers Magazine

The Importance of Paying Your Dues By: Sean Lynott, MBA, CPRW

My career has covered working with students in a variety of capacities: student advising, career advising, teaching, recruiting, etc. Over the course of many years one theme has stood out to me; the importance of paying your dues and avoiding the entitlement trap. I hope you’ll stay with me on this brief journey as I explore this important theme and how it’s essential to your future success in the world outside academia. I think back to May 2002 when I was finishing college. I hadn’t really given much thought to what my next step would be. Unlike other students I didn’t pursue internships or anything else career related. Let’s just say that I wasn’t

as ambitious as my peers and the thought of joining the workforce was a scary prospect. I had my expensive piece of paper and had the assumption that as a college graduate the work would come to me. Where did this attitude come from? I can’t say for sure but it certainly didn’t do me any favors once school was completed. The result of this was me bussing tables at a restaurant, just like I did during the summers between my years in school. I was the victim of my own ego and the feeling that a degree was enough. It would take me years to figure out that finding a career involved real work and that I would have to build my own brand to achieve any semblance of career success. As someone who is graduating soon or will be wrapping up your education I hope that you’ve been working with your career team to figure out the direction you wish to take. Even after I landed my first successful corporate job I still had that entitlement following me around. I had a “real” job now and all the things I envisioned coming my way were just around the corner. I remember applying for a senior role on my team and not getting it. How did I handle this rejection? By trying to get my peers to protest management; a childish labor walkout that was silly to say the least. Fortunately, I had a manager who saw this as a learning opportunity and shared with me that I was their second choice and just narrowly missed out. They saw me as someone with potential and I rewarded them by flashing my true colors as an immature employee not ready for the big time. I was never able to shake the image of the childish employee and had to seek opportunities outside of the organization. I had sabotaged my own career and there was no one to blame but me. This was one of those “ah-ha” moments where I learned that how I dealt with rejection was just as important as how I dealt with success. Make sure that you always try to take everything in stride and don’t let your mindset sabotage your career and how your peers perceive you.


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