Students & YPs

Young Professionals’ Voice: It’s About Time

By Devon Ryan

What is the one thing you can do to position yourself to excel? We all know the transition from student to young professional can be daunting. Doubts and uncertainties can create many barriers to succeeding in your new work environment.

Well, I have good news for you. One important thing comes to mind that can help you make leaps and bounds toward breaking down those uncertainties sooner, rather than later, and accelerate your career.

Out of all the advice people can and will give you, you should always be cognizant of one thing. Hint: It’s not confidence (although I am a huge advocate of confidence), and it’s relative. What is it? It’s time. Yes, you heard me right, time.

It’s limited and scarce, and for the majority of your life, you have most likely abused it and/or wasted it. It’s Ok-we’ve all wasted time. The key is to realize it, as soon as possible, and take steps to correct it.  Don’t get me wrong, confidence is a valuable trait to have, but it takes experience to build confidence-and that will happen in “due time.”

The key is to optimize your time, so you are able to build your confidence faster. In other words, confidence is a function of time, and being more conscientious of time will expedite building your confidence.

As long as I can remember I have always been a punctual person, but I haven’t always been a morning person. When I started my first job out of college, I struggled to wake up early; but once I got used to it (and it took a long time), I was able to accomplish so much more during the day before it was even noon. Now, I wake up every morning, and begin tackling my objectives for the day. That way, if anything out of the ordinary happens (which usually does) I have already accomplished my main objective. That’s how you get ahead faster.


Think back to high school. Was there something you either did or didn’t do that makes you wish you knew what you know now-so you could go back and do it–or do it sooner? What about college? Many students waste their freshman year partying, and figuring out what degree to pursue for their careers. Now that you are close to graduating (or already have), you might reflect, and wish you had known what to do–sooner. You could have gotten a head start on your career. That’s my point. I encourage you not to make the same mistake twice, or expect success to happen by fostering the same patterns.

Be early in everything. Successful people not only show up, they show up early. Whether you are trying to develop a talent, or start a business, starting it earlier almost always give you an advantage. You either fail sooner, or you develop a special niche market before anyone else does. Think about it. Would you like to start your own Google search engine now? Or would you like to start it back when the Internet was young”¦

You might see infographics floating around the web showing all the successful people who started late.  Well, that’s great, but I call that “comforting inspiration.”  You are just wasting your time reading that stuff. Tailored for late bloomers, those infographics are for the people who continued with the same mindset after college, and realized 20 years after graduating that they should have started earlier. Would you rather be in their situation?  Or would you rather take action now to position yourself for a better future?

Patience is still a virtue, but you have to have balance–a sense of urgency is vital, if you want to be successful. I challenge you to focus on being more aware and having control over your schedule. Focus on positioning yourself so that you can have an impact sooner rather than later.

It really is about time.

Devon Ryan is IEEE-USA’s Young Professionals Voice columnist, and the Young Professionals Representative on the IEEE-USA Board of Directors. 


Guest Contributor

IEEE-USA is an organizational unit of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, Inc. (IEEE), created in 1973 to support the career and public policy interests of IEEE’s U.S. members. IEEE-USA is primarily supported by an annual assessment paid by U.S. IEEE Members.

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One Comment

  1. Devon, Well said! I agree that it’s important to be early in time as well as early compared to your personal and corporate competition.

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