Author and Gen Y expert Lindsey Pollak has four tips that can help you transform yourself from an entry-level whiz kid into a respected leader:
- Believe that you are already a leader. I disagree that you've "never functioned in a leadership capacity." Have you spearheaded a group project in school, planned an event, mentored a younger person, served on the board of an extra curricular organization, given a speech, captained a sports team, launched a blog, babysat? All of these activities -- and many others -- are examples of leadership that have helped prepare you for the role you want to take on now. You don't need to have held a title like "manager" or "vice president" to have leadership experience -- and the confidence that goes with it.
- Hang out with managers. One of the best ways to learn what it takes to be in management is to ask people who've successfully gotten there. Reach out to any managers you know and ask if they'd be willing to chat with you and offer some advice. In addition to tapping your own network, ask your friends and family if they could introduce you to any managers who'd be willing to share their experience. Ask the career services staff of the university where you received your MBA if they can connect you with some alums in management roles. Millions of people have made the transition before you, so tap into all of that expertise.
- Keep learning. Go to the library, search podcasts on iTunes, type "becoming a manager" into Google and take advantage of all the great books, blogs, lectures and Twitter feeds related to being a good manager. Immerse yourself in the world of management and you'll increase your confidence and gain valuable knowledge that will prove to an employer that you are ready to hit the ground running.
- Increase your experience. You're absolutely right that employers want to hire someone who won't need a lot of training -- ideally someone who has done a similar job already. The good news is that you can gain management experience without ever being hired for it. Why not volunteer to manage a project for your church, synagogue, professional association or a local charity? Just because you aren't paid for something doesn't mean it doesn't count as experience that you can add to your resume, your LinkedIn profile and discussions you have during job interviews. And, any opportunity to manage is also an opportunity to impress people with your skills and remind them that you'd be a good candidate for any jobs they hear about.
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