23, Retirement Plan Services Associate for Dixon Hughes Goodman LLP
In what ways does having younger employees add to a company’s success?
Younger employees generate unique perspectives for companies. Being raised in the era of technology, millennials have the capability to propose more efficient processes and softwares for companies to adopt. Younger employees also tend to have a different set of values when it comes to the workplace. I find that younger generations tend to favor a great company culture, transparency and flexibility, all of which contribute to a great work-life balance and a more enjoyable work experience. When I think of the value added by the demand of improved work-life balance that millennials impose onto the current workforce, I’m reminded of a quote: “Customers will never love your company until your employees do first.”
What have been a few keys to your success so far?
Anyone can work a 9 to 5 day and do what they are responsible to accomplish. It’s the hours before 9 a.m. and after 5 p.m. that have attributed to my success. I have joined several professional organizations within my first year out of college and took on leadership roles within those organizations. While this reduces the amount of personal time I have after my traditional work hours, I have begun to develop my network and establish professional relationships with other individuals outside of my office. Often I arrive to work before our standard office hours begin, which allows me to exceed my workload expectations while having enough time to participate in organization meetings, networking events and leadership conferences.
Is there anything that you would change about your generation as a whole? If so, what?
While it’s great that millennials grew up in the era of technology, it is also a huge hindrance. We become so reliant on technology, especially to communicate, that we forget the value of the personal touch. I would love to see my generation make a conscious effort to put their phones down more often and be fully present in the moment.
What do you look for in a job/company?
Company culture. I don’t need to love what I’m doing at this point in my career; however, I need to love where and who I’m doing it for. As a young professional with a generalized business degree, it’s hard to know at this age what exactly it is that I’m deeply passionate about. At my age, I am able to determine if a company takes care of its employees, and that is a key factor for me when determining the difference between a good company and a great company. This can be determined through the benefit packages they offer, their impact on the local community, if they encourage a healthy work-life balance, if they encourage continuing education, and if they promote wellness in all areas of their employees’ lives. I’m very fortunate to say that I found this within the company I currently work for.
What kinds of digital platforms do you feel you have benefited from in your career?
LinkedIn and e-mail. LinkedIn is a great tool to connect with the individuals you meet at a conference or a networking event on a professional platform. I connect with anyone I received contact information for within one to two days of receiving that information. This practice has helped me have a second connection, further developing my professional relationship with that individual.
Customizing my Outlook, and using it to its full potential, has allowed me to be much more organized and truly schedule my workday. This practice ensures that I’m able to complete my workload, while also being engaged in my professional organizations and local community.
Tell us about some of your favorite ways to do worthwhile networking.
My go-to networking event typically includes involvement with a community service partner. This allows me to feel that I’m giving back as much as I am receiving. I also attend luncheons and day-long conferences. Ideally, I try to go to the conferences alone. This forces me out of my comfort zone and allows me to make connections I may not have made if I went with a co-worker or friend. Lastly, being involved in a young professionals group has been amazing. I’ve learned a tremendous amount about the city of Norfolk through being on DT100 and have made a great amount of connections from other professionals that work throughout the city. Having quarterly events and monthly meetings allows for authentic relationships to develop.
How are you contributing to life/community outside of the workplace?
The major contribution that I am involved with would be through my membership and position in the Junior League of Norfolk-Virginia Beach. I’m currently the done-in-a-day chairman, where I oversee a team that creates impactful, single-day volunteer opportunities throughout Hampton Roads. I also previously worked on a local State Senator’s campaign for re-election, which increased my awareness of the importance of constitutes being involved in local politics. I volunteer to work local polling stations on election days and contribute to local officials’ grassroots efforts as much as I can.
What advice would you offer to other millennials or recent graduates about getting their careers to take off?
Build the strongest and most diverse resume you can because it’s the only thing that speaks for you in your absence. Do this through your education, volunteer opportunities, presentations, awards, community involvement and organizations. Make connections and build relationships with your professors. When they get a lead on a job, it usually goes directly to the students with whom that professor has relationships. When it comes to networking, even if you feel uncomfortable, you have to do it to excel in your career. You will learn so much just through talking to other professionals, both recently graduated and experienced individuals. Talk to established professionals in the industries you believe you want to go into. This will not only get you in front of a potential employer, but also will allow you to gain insight on the reality of the industry, not just the perception.
From her nomination:
“As a quick learner and natural leader, Tianna has been assisting others in her department to learn software and technical aspects of the retirement plan field. She has a broad understanding of her field already at such a young age. She works very hard and has a positive, competitive edge that helps her be successful.”
—Jennifer Gibbs Swet, coach