By: Natalie Bittel

For developed professionals, large, industry-wide tradeshows or conferences are important to attend to learn what is going on in a specific realm of business. These events are great opportunities to network with current or potential clients, listen to opinion leaders and discover new products or services. However, although these events are enticing for the more established professionals, they are not as popular among young college graduates freshly entering the working world. These students want to network with professionals and begin making a name for themselves, but they don’t always know where to begin and these kinds of events aren’t always in their line of sight right off the bat.

Thankfully, many established professionals are eager to share their tips and tricks with young professionals to help get them on their feet so they can hit the ground running in the BBW, or Big, Bad World as one of my favorite professors calls it. When in the beginning stages of professional development, it’s not about attending the most prestigious event right away or spending a lot of money to attend an out-of-town conference. Your time will come to launch that new product or land that client, so be patient. Instead, right out of college, the best thing you can do for yourself is listen to others who have been where you are. Take your time to form genuine relationships with those who will be pulling for you when you apply for that full-time job. Find a mentor to go to for any job-related situation – from interview questions to interview outfit advice. These are the stepping stones to getting to the bigger stuff down the road.

Take into consideration other professionals’ advice, but also push yourself at your own speed. Everything is brand new and there is no answer to what “real-world” life may bring. I haven’t even graduated from college yet, but am faced with obstacles every day as I am preparing to cross the finish line in December. If I have learned one thing in my collegiate journey to becoming a professional, it’s this: take the most entry level of entry level positions with a company you want to work for. You will learn so much more if you are passionate about where you are working, even if you aren’t doing exactly what you want to do right away. Use that opportunity to build relationships, learn as much as possible and produce the best work you can to showcase down the road. Don’t worry, you will make it out alive in the end, we all will.

What’s the best piece of professional advice you have received?