Millennials on the Move: Ashley Smith
29, Anchor/Reporter for WVEC
How do you see your generation (millennials)? How do you think older generations define millennials?
We are tech-savvy; having and using the latest and most modern technology has become the standard for millennials. We are optimistic; millennials are hopeful and confident in their future and success. We are community-centric (in person and/or via social media); no matter how individualistic we may be, we still wish to belong to a group and build a network around us to support our goals.
I think older generations may use some of the same terms to define millennials but may not necessarily see those characteristics in the same light. For instance, the “optimism” in a clear career path may collide with older generations who have put a lot of work into their success. They may view millennials’ optimism as a belief that they can start at a high level in their career without having to “climb the ladder.” Cultural and environmental differences have created some divides between generations, but I truly believe there are people within each of them that look to learn something from the others.
What have been a few keys to your success so far?
1. Preparation. To the best of my ability, I have tried to be ready whenever an opportunity presented itself. 2. Work ethic. It’s about going beyond your shift to make sure a task is done right. It’s about taking on additional work to contribute to the greater good of the team. 3. Respect. I believe it is important to treat everyone the way you want them to treat you. You never know whose recommendation could lead to your promotion, and I think that maintaining healthy relationships with colleagues has aided tremendously in my career.
Is there anything that you would change about your generation as a whole? If so, what?
I believe millennials understand the value of education; many work to get multiple degrees before entering the workforce. However, we can learn from other generations the strength in experience—getting an internship, shadowing professionals and volunteering at companies. While education is very important, millennials could benefit from immersing themselves in a work environment while they learn.
What do you look for in a job/company?
I look for a company that values its employees and encourages them to voice their opinions. I look for a company that listens to my ideas but honestly tells me when those ideas will not work (so I can learn and make more aligned suggestions in the future). I look for a job that presents exciting challenges and allows me use my best skills, while helping me to identify new ones.
What do you feel are some of the biggest perks of living in Coastal Virginia? What changes do you think the region should implement to continue to be a draw for millennials?
The region has already done a lot to attract millennials, so I think there are some things they should just continue to do (like creating walkable shopping and dining experiences in densely-populated areas). I believe our region could benefit, though, from reaching out to some of the millennials who have left the area and find out why. I also think that our region should continue to provide opportunities for millennials to be civically engaged—their thoughts should be sought after and seriously considered. Their ideas could really help to shape the region over the coming years.
Tell us about some of your favorite ways to do worthwhile networking.
My favorite way is to meet and mingle with people in person! Even in this technological age, I always find there is more value in speaking with someone face-to-face. It also sends the message that you have made an effort to make this connection. It makes a much stronger impact than an email or text message.
Social networking is my second favorite way. There are just some contacts that you may not be able to meet in person, and social media allows you to connect with them immediately and clearly state your intentions. It’s also a great way to keep a contact with someone you’ve recently met.
Offering my services is also a fantastic way to network! Meeting someone is only the first step; you have to then build a relationship with that person. I have found a very effective way of doing so is by first offering to support their endeavors. No one wants to connect with someone who is only looking to gain and not give. By helping them now, you may be able to count on their support in the future.
How are you contributing to life/community outside of the workplace?
My most significant contribution is volunteerism. There are some work-related events that I attend, but I also attend and participate in others that aim to better the community. Nonprofits, community organizations and health-related events are very important to me.
What advice would you offer to other millennials or recent graduates about getting their careers to take off?
Be flexible. To get the job you want, you may have to move away from your family and friends. You may have to work a challenging shift. You may not have a lot of time for social activities. But it is all worth it! Not only will future employers see your passion and determination, but you will stand out amongst other job applicants who may put stipulations on job acceptance.
Always dress for the job you want. Make it easy for your superiors to imagine you in a higher-level position! Take pride in your appearance, and never get too relaxed in your current job.
Get an internship. If you can’t find one, reach out to your dream company and ask to shadow someone with your dream job. Oftentimes, career elevation is not about what you know, but who you know. And taking that a step further—it’s about who knows what you want. Don’t be afraid to clearly state your goals, and make sure you state them in front of people that can help you reach them.
From her nomination:
“The one thing that people would notice about Ashley is that she is in tune with her faith and inspires positive outlook in life.” —Marcus Calabrese, friend/Millennial on the Move 2016