A group of Two Rivers Marketing associates at a conferenceThis year I celebrated my fourth anniversary with Two Rivers Marketing. I’ll admit, this shocks most people. Their eyes widen as they consider my age and say – “Oh wow, you’re still working there?” I understand their confusion. It’s an unlikely career path for most millennials.

I’m sure you’ve seen or heard numbers like this – 43 percent of millennials plan to leave their current position within two years. In fact, you can find this exact statistic in the 2018 Deloitte Millennial Survey. It’s not all bad news. The survey also states millennials stay longer if they feel they’ll develop faster and better.

Four years ago, I couldn’t have anticipated the exciting changes I’d experience at this agency. Working in an environment that encourages workplace flexibility has taught me three things about charting my own professional course.

Determine what you love about your current role

I made the move from public relations to the insights department in my second year. Two years of reporting editorial share-of-voice, discussing impressions, and ad spend was fascinating. This led me to the realization that my real passion lies in the data itself.

Changing roles allowed me to hone my skills in data analysis. I was able to provide more insight on trends, themes, and ways to improve our reporting processes. Finding a position that suited my interests and skills made me a more valuable associate.

If you’re still trying to find out what you love doing, that’s okay! Identify a mentor you can go to inside or outside the walls of the company you work for. Ask them to share some of the challenges and successes of their own career growth. This may provide you with a more realistic picture of your “dream job”.

Tell your employer what you want and need

It’s clear from the Deloitte survey that professional development is top of mind for those starting out in their careers. Two Rivers has taken notice of this trend. Last year, the agency surveyed and interviewed associates to create personas. Each persona represented a different generation at our company – their demographics, goals, and challenges.

Meet Career Explorer Emory. She’s plucky (at least I like to imagine she is), and less than three years into her career. Emory is looking to gain more experience and responsibility for advancement. One of her challenges is discovering her skill set and interests to grow within the agency. Sound familiar?

It might not make sense for your company to create associate personas, but you should feel heard. Take a look at your job description. Provide feedback on ways you’d like to expand your role. Do you have current responsibilities you’d like to focus on more? While this may not lead to overnight changes, your input could determine future growth within your organization.

Seek out professional development opportunities

It’s not that millennials love job hopping. Changing jobs sometimes seems like the only way to gain more responsibility, advance, or make more money. I can’t speak for all millennials (sorry), but I’m always trying to set myself up for future success. Every year, I work to learn a new set of skills related to my field.

Last year I attended Digital Summit, a digital marketing conference in Minneapolis. Digital was an area I expressed interest in growing my skills, so my boss encouraged me to check it out. I came back with a better understanding of SEO, content marketing, UX, and more. I wrote a blog post on my learnings from the conference. I also helped lead an internal training session on the tips and best practices I learned. Turning my professional development into shared learning at the agency was a win-win.

Forging your own career path doesn’t mean doing it alone — you just have to find the people and organizations that can help you along the way. Look for an employer who encourages career exploration and growth, understands your needs and challenges, and pushes you to become better. Before you know it, you’ll be celebrating your own four-year anniversary.

Thinking of making a change and want to take more ownership of your own career path? Explore our available opportunities and find out which role speaks to your current interests and skills — we’d love to hear from you!

About Sharaya Jackson

As a marketing insights specialist, Sharaya spends her days collecting data to deliver valuable insights to our clients. When she isn’t searching for meaning in a world of data, you can find her looking for the perfect candle in the shops of Des Moines. Email Sharaya at sharayaj@2rm.com.