How to be the boss of your own career plan, by a millennial manager

How to be the boss of your own career plan, by a millennial manager

Millennials, those of us born in the 80s or 90s, make up 13.9% of the total UK population.

It’s often said we are starting our careers in a harsh environment. Many of us entered young adulthood in the midst of the financial crisis or the subsequent recession. Now, we’re all facing the uncertainty surrounding Brexit in the UK, and many of us were released into the “real world” with around £30k–55k student debt (that’s just for undergraduate studies).

When it comes to our prospects, there’s a consistently negative backdrop. It’s time to change the narrative, though.

Farzana Ali

Make use of your access to start ups, don't "hold out"

I believe we are not making full use of the start-up world and what it has to offer. This is partly because of the mentality most of us have of “holding out”.

Within two or three years you could be de-skilling yourself by “holding out” for that graduate job at a big corporate firm, if you are working in a an unfulfilling non-graduate role in the meantime.

What millennials really need to remember is we are not starting our careers in the same environment as our parents. Graduate schemes are highly competitive. There are also huge opportunities to be had gaining experience at smaller firms.

I spent a lot of time in my second year of university applying to graduate schemes and doing online tests. A lot of people enter the workforce this way, but my route was a different one in the end.  

How an internship with a start-up led to me managing an international team at 24

I decided to do an internship during the summer after my second year of university, at a start-up graphic design agency.   

At this point there were only two people based in London and eight people based in India. I went back after graduating with a Mathematics and Business Management degree and started as a Project Manager.

My responsibilities quickly grew as I had to manage accounts, help with sales and marketing, work in operations to improve internal processes and eventually start managing new recruits joining the London office.

The company also quickly grew to having five people in the UK and 23 people in India. After one of the partners left, at the age of 24 I was managing the team in the UK and remotely managing the team in India.

In the short space of two years I believe this taught me more than any graduate scheme would have had to offer. I worked in each field of the company. I was essentially learning on the job, and fast. It wasn’t easy, but the experience it gave me was invaluable.

My big move to a managerial role at a FTSE 100 investment firm

I am now one of the youngest managers within a global investment management firm. I was recently offered a role as its Creative Services Manager, with the opportunity to build an in-house design team.

My whirlwind career experience has taught me that the path your parents have gone down, or the path that your teachers tell you to go down, is often not applicable to our current situation.

I was always put in the bottom sets at school and I was told not to think about applying to Cambridge University.

Despite this, by the time I finished my GCSEs I had moved up to the top set classes and had started to decide for myself what I wanted to study at university.

What matters is your drive for self-growth and doing something you love. Don’t listen to what people might say you can or can’t achieve – it’s up to you.

Take your own path

There are millennials out there making use of the opportunities we have, taking different pathways to get their dream job. My advice would be never “hold out”.

Find a role where you can work on a personal development plan or build a training program. Although it might not be exactly what you had in mind, this will give you the opportunity to continue to develop your hard skills.

In 2017 there were 311,550 company directors under the age of 30, up from 295,890 just two years prior to this, according to accountancy firm Moore Stephens. I believe this is down to the opportunities for personal growth within start-ups and the start-up mentality.

Millennials have the potential to grow their career at a faster rate than any other generation, despite the odds. So it’s not all doom and gloom.

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