Tricia Karp Tricia Karp
18 October 2013

Brand new to your career? How to value yourself and own your worth from day one.

Lions & Lion Cubs

This is a post by my intern, Sarah Voigt.  She’s a final year journalism and creative writing student, and has lots to say about Gen Ys and how they perceive their worth.  See below!  Tricia

Final year university is a bit of a mystery. I almost have my degree, I could just about apply for a ‘real job’, but I don’t quite yet have the experience that proves I’m worth hiring. This is where internships and work placements come in. This year I’ve tried my absolute best to fit in as many various ‘experiences’ as I can. And I’ve had some seriously interesting conversations with other students in the same dilemma.

So… you don’t get paid… at all?

Why should I?  I mean, I deserve respect; I’m not free labour. But to really look attractive to an employer I have to, at least, look like I want to do the work.  So, I do internships.  And I feel like I’m getting more than money could give me. I’m learning, networking and finding out what exactly it is that I want to do. That’s invaluable to me. And the fact that there are people out there, like Tricia, who are willing to mentor and encourage my learning… well, why wouldn’t I take that opportunity?!

At this young age, we are often told we are at the bottom of the food chain: ‘don’t complain, just do the job and do it well.’ I do agree with this. Everyone had to do the boring stuff before they really made it.

But there is a line between using your first work-experiences as learning and networking opportunities, and just doing a job.

I don’t believe it’s laziness holding Gen Ys back.  The problem is we don’t value themselves enough to ask for more, not only of our employers, but of ourselves.  So many of us are stuck because we don’t value our own talent and hard work.  And complacency never helped anyone.

Here’s what needs to change:

  • Know your skills, and use them. If you don’t, you will never earn the respect and admiration of your peers. They’ll always think you are the yes-woman, the one who does the work without question; and you might find it hard to turn this around later.
  • Value your youth.  Being the youngest in the office means you have more time, more energy and more opportunity for growth than a lot of your co-workers.
  • Don’t let yourself get comfortable. A challenge is always rewarding, especially at this early stage.
  • Value yourself.  Own your worth.  If you feel like the work given to you is unfair or way beyond your skill set, say something, and be willing to listen and learn.
  • Value your future. The long-term goal should always be your priority. Never lose sight of this. You don’t want to wake up in 20 years wondering why you didn’t try harder.


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