As Millennials, we’re often looking for opportunities to grow and lead at our jobs. Nothing says “I have arrived!” more than the chance to leave your mark on organization in the form of a big project that you manage from start to finish. However, while we may have a ton of eagerness and confidence, it can be challenging to land and lead a big project at work, especially if you have little experience.
But there are ways to take on a big project. In fact, I was able to lead a large fundraising event at my nonprofit site, thanks to my observation and communication skills.
When I first met with my supervisor (who actually came on board two months after I began) we discussed our responsibilities. The conversation also included our work styles and our apprehensions. It was in this first meeting that I gleaned a small opening for project leadership: my supervisor mentioned that although she knew planning our organzation’s fundraiser was a major responsibility for her, she didn’t like planning events. Knowing my supervisor disliked event planning, I began thinking of ways I might be able to help her with this enormous task.
For example, while both my supervisor and I solicited auction items, I entered the information for all the items, stored them securely, and kept track of the spreadsheet with all the information. I designed the event slideshow, program, table centerpieces, auction item displays and redemption forms, and created the auction wrap-up system for the event. I also created the promotional campaign and schedule for the event on Constant Contact, Twitter, and Facebook. My supervisor handled the guest list, board, event and solicitation communications, tracked the ticket sales, and systemized the auction check-out.
The event was a success and in hindsight when I read Perfect Venue – The Key to a Successful Event I had done a majority of the planning ahead, research about the event, and budgeting without even realizing it. As the lead on this project – it felt great to know that I handled decision-making in my realm of responsibilities and it feels even better to know that I can share what I learned through my experiences.
So how can you do the same?
Observe. Everyone has their preferences for what they would like to do in the workplace, including your supervisor. By paying attention to the professional likes and dislikes of your supervisors, you may find the opening you need to broach the topic of leading the next big project.
Communicate. Without constant communication about your work, professional goals and the experiences of your supervisor, how will you know what opportunities you can forge for yourself to be better? Communication is also crucial to leading any project as you go through the process of letting your supervisor know updates, asking for help, and troubleshooting.
Be willing to do more. I knew working more closely with my supervisor on the event would mean a larger work load, but I was willing to take on more work in order to grow as a VISTA and as a young professional. Because my supervisor and I communicated throughout our working together, the delegation of my responsibilities were in alignment with what I enjoyed doing and the things she didn’t enjoy doing.
Be assertive. There is a major difference between being assertive and being pushy. Knowing where you are in that spectrum certainly helps in getting your chance to lead that next big project and in the management of those responsibilities.
Ask too many questions. It is important to be armed with as much information as possible. Too much information never hurts, and the curiosity you exhibit to your supervisor demonstrates that you care and are willing to churn out informed work instead of just blindly leading with your assumptions.
Be flexible. You may not get to lead a project fully but if you are open to taking on more responsibilities in a few areas you’re still improving your skill set. Be open to possibilities you may not have considered because those often present learning opportunities you hadn’t considered before.
Do you have advice on how you can land a big project at work? Share it below or join the conversation on Facebook.
Anne is currently serving a year in Americorps’ Volunteer in Service to America (VISTA) program as a Communications/Development Associate at Urban Dove. She is also the Founder and Executive Director of her own youth development nonprofit – The World is Your Oyster launching this fall. Read all of Anne’s post on YNPN-NYC.