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Underemployment - How Can I Grow?

Q. I have worked at a very large company for the last 5 years, and I love the benefits and vesting. I feel like I am going nowhere, and like I have more to offer than what I use every day. I do not have a college education but I got a job that requires college education for the most part. I would love to go back to school but I am impatient and I want to make money and succeed now. Do you have any suggestions? I haven't written a resume in a long time and I don't know where to start.

A. Many managers may be able to identify you - not by name, but by generation. Many studies have been done outlining the generational differences of employees in the work place and you have articulated those most often attributed to Generation X and Y. While employees in your generation also have many positive traits, (extremely tech savvy, readily available via technology, and ambition) you can be difficult to manage because of your impatience with bureaucratic management of upward mobility, and an aversion to delayed gratification.

As your manager may be from another generation, you can benefit from doing some research on generational differences in the workforce. If your manager is a baby boomer for example, he may expect to see you in the office working long hours to get you to success. They value loyalty and would not react well to an employee developing a resume for an external job search.

So depending on what you really want - a degree, money, success, and a resume begin with what you identify as your short term and long term priorities. Your current situation sounds positive in terms of security and compensation, with the negatives being you feel underemployed. One of the benefits you may not be tapping into is tuition reimbursement. If your company supports taking classes, I encourage you to complete your degree. Demonstrating a commitment to your own development is typically well received by current and future managers. This will also have a positive impact on your future opportunities, and ability to change jobs. The investment made in getting a degree has been shown to add a significant amount to your earning potential over the life of your career. The work which you are doing in your classes may also help you offer more than you currently do. Perhaps there are projects which you can take on that serve double duty, as an academic project, and a benefit to your firm.

Finding the direction you are looking for can come from classes, faculty mentors, or managers. Your demonstration of all the positive traits of your generation may help you find the path to your version of success - maybe not now, but sooner.

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