6 Things You Should Do In Your Career To Pay It Forward

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We can’t speak for everyone, but we’d bet that most of you had an incredible internship supervisor or old colleague who really helped you grow professionally. Whether it was a busy exec’s simple gesture of setting aside time to get coffee with you or a former boss’s initiative to give you incredible work opportunities, you’re not likely to forget the time that someone with more professional leverage than yourself helped you out. So now, it’s your turn to be that person for someone else. Here are some solid ways to pay it forward in the office.

1. Take that stellar intern for coffee.

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It’s typical of an intern to ask a salaried or full-time member of the company to go for a coffee or lunch. What you may not have considered, however, is that you could be one step ahead of that intern and offer a coffee date to him or her instead. If you recognize that this intern has done well at your company, pay it forward and spend some time chatting with him or her about post-grad goals, industry advice and any other helpful life tips you want to share.

2. Get involved with your office’s mentorship program (or help start one).

Depending on your company’s flexibility on the new project, you could offer to start or help run a mentorship program. Whether the program focuses on internal mentorship between staff or an outside mentorship program pairing staff with students, helping others gain knowledge in their field is an extremely nice and professional thing to do.

3. Answer those “I’d love to pick your brain” and “How did you get to where you are now?” emails.

You may have a fairly demanding job that doesn’t allow you to answer every email you receive, but you can probably spare a few minutes to answer some of them. Nearly everyone has reached out to someone they professionally admire, like that big editor from that beautiful magazine, and some of us remember that incredible feeling of getting a reply.

4. Leverage your network for others’ gain.

Sometimes, you network because you really need to achieve something for yourself. Other times, you can use your network to help those around you who really need it. Got a former coworker who was just laid off from his job, or (again) an amazing intern looking for a next step? Looking through your own networks to help others find new career opportunities is a great way to give back some good fortune.

5. Provide your junior colleagues with new opportunities to shine.

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Your boss tells you that a big project is up for grabs and she’s thinking of you. While you should always have your own back in the career sphere, consider allowing junior colleagues to spearhead the project while you supervise. You’re giving them a way to show the company that they’re valued members of the team, and you’re also giving them a safe space, under your careful eye, to learn something new and test their leadership chops. Allowing them the opportunity, and then guiding them in the process, is a great way to help them reach their greater goals.

6. Volunteer to train your colleagues — and train them well.

Similar to giving your junior colleagues some new responsibility, offer to help onboard new colleagues or help train them on a project or internal process. Obviously, make sure you have enough knowledge on whatever you’re training the colleagues on, but helping them adjust to something new at work is likely a huge relief for them. Just like how your favorite former supervisor or colleague took you aside to help you when they didn’t have to, give someone else that same individualized attention.