By Seth Johnson
Recently I crossed a monumental milestone in my career; two years as a part of the Atlas Real Estate team. I am grateful as I reflect on my journey from a small town in Iowa, to being hired at a company recognized as industry best in the state of Colorado. The past two years have been nothing short of the adventure I was hoping for when I arrived in Colorado as a recent graduate of Taylor University. Two years full of some of the most influential moments of my life thus far. With those early feelings of excitement and nervousness still fresh in my mind, I’d like to highlight some of the significant things I wish I’d known as I stepped into the workforce.
One of the first and biggest lessons I learned was how important and accepted it is to fail. Failure is a triggering word to some, especially those just starting their careers. What we often fail to recognize (no pun intended) is that failure is part of every single success story. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes – in fact, you can expect them. Accept that mistakes are necessary for growth. At Atlas, I am continually learning how to embrace failure. ‘Failing forward,’ as we call it, means that you are growing and being challenged in your role. As long as you’re not making the same mistakes continuously, your mistakes are an integral part of your path to success.
As newcomers, we can often face resistance or fear when it comes to asking questions – afraid of letting our inexperience show. There is truth to the age-old saying: the only bad questions are the ones that never get asked. Don’t be afraid to ask a genuine question. Finding a mentor is a great way to give yourself confidence in asking questions. A mentor serves as your confidant who is willing to share his or her experiences and answer even the most trivial questions without judgment.
It’s easy to compare yourself to others, especially at the beginning of your career. It’s also easy to get caught up in thinking ahead to the next big thing. While it’s great to have goals and an evolving growth mindset, make sure you’re not allowing this to keep you from embracing the role you’re in. Always aim to do your best, wherever you are, before trying to move on to something new. When the timing was right, Atlas gave me new avenues of growth. When I started as an analyst two years ago, I never thought I would end up in corporate development. The benefit of working for a fast-growing company that keeps employees’ growth at the forefront is that roles are always changing. Your ideal job will likely be something you grow into overtime, so trust the process. Always keep future goals in mind but be fully present in your current role.
View everyone around you as an opportunity to learn. I started with Atlas as an analyst, moved to inside sales, and then into corporate development, where I am now. I have had the invaluable opportunity to work under several leaders within each team. The biggest lesson I took away from these experiences is that leadership is not a one-size-fits-all model. Different people have different styles of leadership, and each of them can be uniquely successful. You can learn from everyone, from one small characteristic to an entire skillset.
Meeting with different members of leadership also helps you to gain insight into the culture, values, and work ethic of the team. Asking about their vision for the future of the company can give you a birds-eye view of their perspective and how they lead their team to achieve that vision. In short, never stop taking inventory of the skills around you.
Last but most importantly, find a company whose mission and values resonate with your own. Prior to being in the workforce, I brushed off the importance of aligning personal and professional values, however, I now appreciate what a difference it makes to work for a company you can stand behind wholeheartedly. It is incredibly motivating to work somewhere that uplifts individuals and communities. The lessons I’ve learned from people and experiences over the past two years have not only been valuable in my career, but also in my evolution as a person.
Starting out in the workforce is intimidating, but my hope is that these tips can make it a little less unnerving and encourage you to find a workplace that helps you grow—one that you enjoy going to every day.
Seth Johnson is a corporate development associate at Atlas Real Estate. He has a bachelor‘s degree in finance from Taylor State University and leads a Young Life group at Cherry Creek High School.