The Kansas Credit Union Association recently launched a networking group geared toward young professionals called CUnext.
The 10 young credit union staffers who attended our first two CUnext events remind me just how sharp the next generation of leaders are. They have access to more information and more resources, and they have the drive and motivation to make things happen.
I had the opportunity to speak to a select focus group of these Generation Y members. Having been in their shoes, I had some advice for them. But this advice isn't only for them. It's for the other generations, too.
No matter your professional level, you can always improve. Here is how to continue to grow, learn and contribute to your organization.
* Be a sponge and learn everything you can about your industry: Listen to your boss, other colleagues, other professionals in your industry. It's amazing what you can learn just by opening your ears.
* Expand your resume: Volunteer to serve on a nonprofit board, help with an event, or take on a new project within your organization. Not only will you gain experience, you also might learn something or meet someone who can help open doors in the future.
* Make opportunities: Speaking of opening doors, don't wait for an open one. Sometimes it's up to you to turn the handle. Is there a professional development workshop or class that sounds interesting? Ask your boss whether you can take it. It's a win for them, too; they're investing in an employee who can help out their organization.
* Create networks: It's never been easier to connect with others online or in real life. Did you meet someone interesting at a chamber event? Have a Twitter conversation with someone who helped you? Develop those relationships. You never know when those connections will come in handy.
* Get out of your comfort zone: We love to breeze by easily and not have to "work" at something, don't we? This can leave you stuck in a rut. Don't be afraid to take on a project that might be a little bit scary. Offer to be a speaker at a conference, or even a staff training event. Write a guest post for an industry blog or an op-ed piece for a local newspaper. Offer to learn a new skill and make yourself more marketable. No one ever regretted learning something new.
An employer looks for people who embrace "continuous learning," striving to improve themselves by adding to their skills, experiences and knowledge. It shows initiative and willingness to change.
It's never too late to invest in yourself and your future.