Brandeis International Business School

020: Dabble and Ask Questions

Figuring out what you want to do (and how to do it) after college

Ginger Gregory is a psychologist, the Executive Vice President and the Chief Human Resources Officer at Biogen, a company pioneering new therapies and treatments for neurodegenerative, hematologic and autoimmune diseases. Ginger has a passion for developing people, teams and organizations, which she pairs with a lifelong love of psychology.

From the Dorm Room

Ginger went to two different colleges. We won’t name names, but the first was not a great experience. So she transferred to the University of Massachusetts, where she started studying and fell in love with psychology.

She graduated UMass with a degree in psychology. She was very happy with her major, and she actually wanted to go back for grad school, but she didn't know what she wanted to focus on within the field of psychology. So, she decided to work for a few years.

Along the way, she figured out that she liked helping organizations be more effective. From there, she learned that there is a field called Industrial Organizational Psychology, and that’s what she ultimately decided to pursue in grad school.

We actually hear this question from students a lot – should I go to grad school or should I work first? There is no clear cut answer to the question, but Ginger found a lot of value in working first. The opportunity to try out a few different roles, within a few different organizations, gave her an idea of what was out there and what she liked.

To the Boardroom

Ginger tell us that a lot of young professionals assume that the experience that they're having fully represents every other work experience, but it doesn’t. Especially when you're in your first job, you don't necessarily have the perspective that every single job, company, location, culture are a little bit different.

That’s why she encourages college students and young professionals to dabble in their career. Not every company or organization is the same, and not every role within those companies are the same. So if you don’t try a few things out, you’ll never learn what’s really the best fit for your personality and skills.

Young professionals are also under the misconception that there is some perfect job or company for them, but there will always be tradeoffs with any position. You just want to find something that’s a good fit for you.

On the other side of the coin, many young professionals are worried that their employers will expect them to know everything right way. Everybody that comes into a new role or a new company is learning, and that is expected! So, you don't have to know everything right away.

The Entrepreneurial Edge

Every week, we highlight one piece of advice for aspiring, struggling, and successful-but-want-to-be-even-more-successful entrepreneurs:

Whether you’re an aspiring entrepreneur or intrapreneur, young professionals often run into what Andy likes to call “The Credibility Paradox.” You often feel like you need to have credibility before you’ve had an opportunity to get experience, and that can be a crippling and deflating feeling, especially when you’re a solo entrepreneur.

But, as we said before, people don’t actually expect you to know everything! In fact, one thing you can do to make a good impression on a potential new employer, mentor, business partner, or even client is asking really good, thought out questions.

If you ask a question, and it's a good question, and it's a thoughtful question, and it's a question that you've researched, and it's a question that's pertinent, that enables you to make a good impression, and at the same time, learn!


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