Guest Post: Advancing Your Career Outside of 9 to 5

9-5, 9 to 5, clock, work clock

Working to advance your career is a job in itself. Unfortunately, it’s just not a 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. thing. Ninety percent of people go to their job, grab their coffee mug, do what is asked of them and then leave at 5 p.m. – most of the time it’s probably 4:58 p.m. That means there is a tremendous opportunity for young professionals to fast track their career by being in the 10 percent of people who do just a little more.  I don’t know about you, but I’m young, have way too much energy and have things I want to do in my life and career.  I want to be in that 10 percent!

So, what can we young pros do to make sure we are advancing our career outside of our typical 9 a.m. to 5 day?  Here are some thoughts:


Giving our time can be a win-win situation. Traditionally, we think about volunteering as picking up trash or serving food at the local community center, but there are countless other ways we can give back to enrich other’s lives (and help our own personal well-being, too). Let’s look at 3 areas that we can give back while helping advance our careers:


It doesn’t matter what level within the organization you are at, there are opportunities to help those around you. Check in with your boss and see what projects they are currently working on to see how you can help.  Ask people from other departments if there is anything you can get involved with.  No matter what it is, you are building mutually beneficial relationships with your colleagues and broadening your skills and experience.


Giving your time back to the industry that you work in is the best way to advance your career. Getting involved in trade organizations, taking leadership positions and organizing events create ample opportunity to network with high level people and, again, broaden your skills and experience.  Not to mention, the visibility you receive from throughout the industry will put you on the radar of many people representing many different companies.

Your Passion

Giving back your time to what you’re passionate about can be an invigorating and humbling experience.  It makes you human.  It allows you to be the real you. For me, I’m passionate about environmental sustainability causes and helping children.  What’s yours?  Find it, dedicate time to it and engulf yourself in the experience.  You’ll learn a lot about yourself.

That’s a perfect lead in to…

Finding Balance

Who wants to work all the time?  When we get so engulfed in the tasks that are associated with our jobs, we fall victim to being a part of that 90% who show up, complete the tasks and go home. When this happens we sacrifice true passion and desire that leads to creativity, problem solving and advancement.

Find balance by distancing yourself from your work every so often. Distance can mean physically getting out of town for a while or occupying your brain with other things (I personally enjoy being active whether through sports or a really tough, long workout). You might even find it necessary to schedule this time like you would a meeting. Do whatever it takes to make it happen.

Brand Yourself

Approach your career as if it were its own business. Ask your peers, your supervisors, and your family about your strengths and weaknesses. Take those responses and create a personal SWOT analysis and identify what needs to be done to develop what you offer (hint: think about the stuff above). How can you effectively market yourself to encompass the skills and abilities you gain from the activities we discussed above?

Be proactive. Utilizing tools like LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook are great for creating your brand.  Share interesting things you find on the internet with your network to show them that you are actively expanding your knowledge while demonstrating you understand factors affecting your industry.

Advancing your career takes more than just showing up.  Are you at work now?  Look around. How many of your co-workers just show up?  Do you want to be like them or do you want to take it to the next level? Do you want to fall into the negative stereotypes of young professionals or do you want to be the exception?  The choice is yours.  Right now.

Tyler Durbin, Gen Y Journey Tyler Durbin is the founder of – a platform for students and young professionals to share their experiences on campus and in the real world. As Tyler works to build his young career as a recent college grad, he is also an advocate for empowering young professionals in the workplace and helping his fellow Gen Y’s successfully transition from the college to career.

One Response

  1. Great post. I also believe in the philosophy of going above and beyond your “typical” job requirements during the day. Being a little eager can open up tremendous amounts of possibility while adding skill sets and experience to your resume 🙂

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