#Adulting: Be proactive and actively engaged

How can you stand out and showcase what you bring to an internship, job, student organization, or the classes you take? Be proactive, ask questions, and be willing to observe! Being proactive builds your personal brand and reputation at work, school, and/or during extracurricular activities. People can count on you.

Starting off in a job or internship can feel very overwhelming and we often look for our superiors to tell us what to do. However, no one is going to tell you everything you need to do and many times you have to figure out how you can contribute to the team. In order to do that, being proactive is key, but it can be challenging. So how can you be proactive in your new environment? Ask questions and be willing to admit when you don’t know something. No one expects you to be an expert and asking good questions will show the team and your manager that you are engaged and interested in learning about your role and it’s functions. The best way to showcase you are ready for more responsibilities is to start taking on those responsibilities without having to be asked. One example is to really listen to your manager – if they say “Wouldn’t it be nice if we had a report that…” or “We don’t have research on those competitors…” try to find a way to fill in the gaps. Your team and supervisor will notice.

Being proactive requires you be organized and understand your current responsibilities. Ask yourself: “What are your tasks? What are the priorities? What can be consolidated, eliminated, shortened? What can you do to stay ahead of less urgent tasks?.” By asking yourself these types of questions you can learn how to anticipate problems and events. You will begin to understand how things work and recognize patterns and regular routines to identify where improvements can be made. Below are 5 key ways you can learn how to be proactive in work, school, and extracurricular activities:

  1. Observe and connect with leaders – This will allow you to gain insights from their professional behaviors and understand the techniques they use to complete projects and initiatives. It is OK to take a step back observe, and learn, especially when you are learning a new process, procedure or role. Take your time before diving into solutions so you can get a fully grasp of all of the components and what may be necessary to achieve the set goals.
  2. Actively participate and be involved – Being involved and taking initiative will prove to the team that you value the work that needs done and that you are will do do the work. Take the initiative to find solutions.
  3. Brainstorm and present new ideas – This will showcase to your team that you are always looking for ways to improve and enhance.
  4. Be willing to work hard – we all say we are “hard working,” but how do you put that into action? Take ownership of your performance and hold yourself accountable.
  5. Create meaningful goals for everything you want to accomplish, write them down, and set deadlines for yourself

In general, respond to requests and communicate in a timely manner, prioritize your tasks, honor your commitments, and follow-up. Being proactive means thinking ahead, acting ahead and getting ahead.

By Sherry Rice
Sherry Rice Director of Professional Development & Programming Sherry Rice