Diary of A Young Pro: Juliana Truesdale
1)Where are you located?
As a consultant, that’s not always an easy question! I recently moved with my husband from Philly to a small town in the Ann Arbor / Detroit area. However, I travel every week for work and live out of a hotel most Mondays through Thursdays.
2) How old are you?
3) What is your job title?
4) How has the transition been from backpack to briefcase (college to adulthood)?
My transition from college to early career has been exhilarating, exhausting, and everything in between.
5) When you were in school, did you imagine your life the way that it is?
I am on a totally different career path than I planned for in college. I distinctly remember signing up for my major at Spelman and thinking to myself, “I might as well major in sociology because it will prepare me for earning a Ph.D. in sociology.” I was 17! Academia is my family’s trade. I clearly understood the path to being a professor because so many people in my life had done it. In fact, my paternal grandmother was a professor, which makes me beam with pride. I was always great at school, enjoyed reading and researching, and earned fantastic summer research opportunities at top universities. As a result, I never gave serious thought to another career. There are many wonderful things about academia, but I owed it to myself to think deeply about my career path and how I wanted to utilize my skill sets and passions at that point in my life. One of the hardest parts of my transition was that I had no idea what I wanted to do. I reached out to my Spelman, Morehouse, Penn, and Stanford network and anyone else I could find who was willing to tell me about their day-to-day. I did unpaid internships and read career books. I went to career counseling and job fairs. I eventually found my way into a global consulting firm. I enjoy my work and my colleagues, and I learn something new every day. It’s been a great transition.
6) What is the best advice you have received from a mentor about adulthood and/or careers?
I’m going to take some liberty with this question, and respond with a quote I read recently: “be who you needed when you were younger.” I absolutely love this. I had so much support as I embarked on this path – much of it from friends-of-friends, and even total strangers. I now make a point to pay it forward whenever possible. I am so grateful for those who helped me along the way, so I find fulfillment helping others.
7) What advice would you give a young professional?
While in college, take the time to explore career options. Do internships, become a leader in club that matter to you, get good grades, and read a lot. One of the best things I did, which is so simple but so rarely done, is talk to people about their careers. I’m not talking about career fairs where it’s 100 seniors dressed in suits trying to make a good impression – I mean informally talking to people about what they do when they get to work, what’s the most challenging part of the day, how they utilize their degree, and what excites them. I was shocked at how open people were to sharing their path and discussing their lessons learned with me. It’s very hard to plan for your dream career if you don’t know what it is, but your first job out of college can really set the stage for your young adulthood. The great thing is, you don’t have to try out every job yourself to see if it’s a great fit – talk to enough people about their career and you’ll find one (or many!) that speak to you.
8) What is next for you and the next 12 months? Do you have any goals you would like to accomplish? How are you going to accomplish them?
My goal is to learn as much as possible, both on the job and after the workday. I always feel better when I devote time after work to developing myself – be it creative writing, learning a skill, or practicing something that doesn’t come naturally to me. It’s easy to feel like you should be working until you fall asleep, but in the long run you’ll be better at your job if you take the time to stretch yourself for the sake of learning, rather than because of a deadline or deliverable.
9) What makes you special?
I devote the time and energy to really understand what’s going on around me. I’m not always a super chatty person, partly because I’m always listening. I find it interesting to learn how people and organizations work, which has helped me both build close relationships and navigate large, complex organizations like the global consulting firms I’ve worked for. I guess I’m big on quotes lately, because another one that comes to mind is “You can’t learn anything when you’re trying to look like the smartest person in the room” (Barbara Kingsolver). I love this quote – there is so much power in knowing when to listen, and also knowing when your words must be heard. I think being a young professional about finding the balance between the two.
*Written by Juliana Truesdale