Mindful Engagement: Navigating Career Connections as an Early-Stage Professional

As has been widely reported, the pandemic severely disrupted our day-to-day lives and many of the routines and hobbies we took for granted. For those of us in the early stages of our careers, professional relationships and mentorship opportunities suffered a particularly strong toll. Finding ways to engage with others professionally and locally can help you cultivate a meaningful career. With that goal in mind, there is good news: numerous professional groups and organizations that shut down during the pandemic are back up and running, and many workers are eager to reconnect. Below are a couple of tips to help you get connected and make the most out of your professional experience.


Embrace Your Network

The term ‘networking’ can send tingles of dread even among seasoned professionals. But networking doesn’t have to be awkward coffee meetings with strangers. Often, we have a robust, ready-made network of friends, family, and social groups already in place. One famous report even argued that casual, more distant acquaintances (rather than close friends) are often the sources of future professional opportunities. Think of these contacts as your network, and get to know others’ professions and passions.

One crucial tip: be sure to stay engaged with the connections you make by staying active through LinkedIn, social media, industry events, etc. Continuing to foster your existing connections is just as important as developing new ones!


Get Involved

Engaging with your local community or industry groups is a great way to expand your horizons and get connected. Volunteering, joining an organization’s board, or taking a training or educational course can introduce you to new ideas, new faces, and new elements of the bustling ecosystem that makes up your neighborhood or line of work. For example, through working with Girls on the Run, I’ve met some extraordinary people throughout Boston as we collaborate to create opportunities and empowerment for Boston girls.

When done correctly, this type of involvement will tie you to the mission of a group or industry and foster a deeper sense of belonging. Belonging is widely considered a crucial aspect of employee engagement and meaningful experience, and we should all be maximizing opportunities to roll our sleeves up and get involved.

As we are learning, hybrid or remote work can be lonely and isolating. To fight this, look for ways to reconnect with your work, your network, and your community. This will help you develop a strong personal mission and set of values regardless of your office set-up. As we continue to develop strategies for professional growth and collaboration in a hybrid world, early-stage professionals ought not underestimate the power of personal connection.