By Rebecca Graffam, Toppel Peer Advisor

One year into my college career, where I have been majoring in Business Administration and minoring in napping, I am also one year into my first real “big girl” job.  Starting off at Toppel afraid to make a slight misstep, my daunting position soon turned into a promotion for taking initiative in my job and showing I can handle responsibility.  With Toppel becoming like a second home, I can now say with confidence that I am ready for my next job this summer with a real estate firm.  And I’m pretty ridiculously excited. 

While juggling school, extra-curriculars, a social life, and a job, I had a lot of people telling me to just chill out this summer.  However, I cannot stay still for long and not only decided to branch out to this job but also take summer classes in the upcoming months.  Even though I may be putting a lot on my plate for the summer, I am pretty pleased with my decision and I am eager to begin exploring new career paths. 
I am also insanely scared, because once again, I will be the new girl in a new industry. 
I’m starting over.  Again.
So, how does a college student handle so much in a year without going crazy? Bubble wrap.  Both for packing purposes for your oh-so-delicate thank you cards you will be writing up the ying-yang to potential future employers thanking them for interviews as well as an inexpensive stress reliever.  Secondly, this list of reminders for the sanity and confidence of the young professional:
1.  Age does not define you.
Just because you do not have as much experience (or as many wrinkles) as the person next to you, your youth is not your defining trait or a detriment.  Never allow anyone respect you or your work less simply because you are from a different generation.   
2.  You are valuable.
You should constantly be on the look out for learning opportunities.  Whether it is a promotion in the company for which you are working, or the knowledge that you are worth more somewhere else, always be on the lookout to grow.  Though loyalty is important, it is also important in the early stages of a job to use the period as a learning experience.  Gather information and absorb the knowledge of the people around you, but never forget how significant you are.  Remember that they are learning from you too.
3.  Be yourself. 
The best way to succeed is to be unapologetically you.  Attempting to be someone else will only hurt you in the long run.  Do not lie in an interview and do not act like someone you are not when communicating with your coworkers.  You want people to like you for you.
4.  Network. Network. Network.
You should be connecting with professionals everywhere you go.  Take all your interactions with people and absorb as much information as possible.  There is something to learn from every person you meet, and the people you meet in your career have the potential to be valuable assets in the future. 
5.  Do not be afraid to press the reset button.
Starting over after a failure means you are growing.  You will develop your professional brand and who you are as a person through trials and tribulations and hitting the reset button multiple times in your life.  When you look back on your career, you will remember how exciting and terrifying it was to get knocked down and get back up again to move on.  Keep moving forward and never stay down. 
And if you are just starting, do not forgot to remind yourself how far you are about to go.