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Growing Your Career in a Virtual World: Tips for Young Workers

In the past, building a successful career often relied heavily on in-person networking experiences. However, with the rise of remote work, young workers may find it challenging to develop their professional networks and grow in their careers. The good news is that there are still plenty of opportunities to build relationships, learn new skills, and advance in your career, even in a virtual environment.

Today, we will explore some effective ways to grow in your career as a young worker in a virtual world.

Strategies to Take Advantage of Virtual Opportunities

Let's face it, the world of work is changing fast, and it can be tough to know how to grow and succeed in a virtual environment. In this section, we'll explore four effective ways to grow in your career as a young worker in a virtual world.

1. Treat Virtual Team Meetings as Networking Opportunities

Virtual team meetings can be a great way to connect with your colleagues and build relationships. Make an effort to join the meeting a few minutes early and strike up a conversation with other team members. You can talk about anything from your weekend plans to your current projects, and even share your interests and hobbies. By doing so, you'll establish a personal connection with your colleagues and create a sense of camaraderie, which can help you build a strong foundation for your virtual network.

2. Find a Mentor

Having a mentor can be incredibly valuable for young workers, as they can provide guidance, support, and valuable insights into your industry. While it may seem challenging to find a mentor in a virtual environment, there are several ways to do so. You can start by looking into your alumni network or signing up for workshops in your areas of interest. Attend virtual events and join online communities related to your field, where you can connect with experienced professionals who can offer advice and mentorship.

3. Take Initiative

Taking initiative is a great way to build your skills, demonstrate your value to your team, and make a positive impact on your organization. Look for ways to help your team members using your talents and strengths. For example, if you're great at presentations, offer to help a peer step up their game in their next PowerPoint. By taking the initiative, you'll not only build relationships with your colleagues but also show your willingness to go above and beyond, which can help you stand out in a virtual environment.

4. Say Yes to Stretch Assignments

Stretch assignments are an excellent way to build new skills and meet people from other departments. When you're given the opportunity to work on a project outside of your comfort zone, embrace it. Not only will you learn new skills, but you'll also demonstrate your willingness to take on new challenges and show your commitment to your career growth.

Specific Ways Young Workers Can Demonstrate Initiative in a Virtual Work Setting

As a virtual worker, it's important to show initiative and take the lead on projects and tasks. Here are some other ways young workers can demonstrate initiative in a virtual work setting:

  1. Be proactive: Anticipate what needs to be done and take the initiative to do it. For example, if you notice a task is falling behind schedule, offer to help out or take the lead on it.

  2. Offer to help others: If you see a colleague struggling with a task, offer to lend a hand. This not only shows initiative but also helps build a strong team dynamic.

  3. Take ownership of your work: Don't wait for someone to tell you what to do. Take ownership of your projects and tasks, and take the initiative to ensure they're completed to the best of your ability.

  4. Look for opportunities to innovate: Virtual work environments can be a great opportunity to try new things and innovate. Look for ways to streamline processes, improve communication, or automate tasks.

  5. Communicate effectively: Communication is key in a virtual work environment. Make sure to communicate clearly and effectively with your team, and take the initiative to ask questions or clarify tasks when needed.

  6. Be flexible: Virtual work can be unpredictable, and things don't always go as planned. Be flexible and adaptable, and take the initiative to adjust your schedule or work style as needed.

  7. Show enthusiasm and energy: Even though you're not in the same physical space as your colleagues, it's important to show your enthusiasm and energy. This can help to boost team morale and motivation.

  8. Take the initiative to learn: Virtual work environments can be a great opportunity to learn new skills and expand your knowledge. Take the initiative to watch webinars, attend virtual training sessions, or read industry blogs to stay up-to-date.

By following these tips, young workers can demonstrate initiative in a virtual work setting and show their colleagues and superiors that they're committed to their work and their career.


Growing your career in a virtual world may require some adjustments, but it's still possible to build a strong professional network and advance in your career. By treating virtual team meetings as networking opportunities, finding a mentor, taking initiative, and saying yes to stretch assignments, you'll be well on your way to success. Remember, the key is to be proactive, engaged, and open to new opportunities. With the right mindset and approach, you can thrive in a virtual environment and build a fulfilling career.


Jonathan H. Westover, PhD is Chief Academic & Learning Officer (HCI Academy); Chair/Professor, Organizational Leadership (UVU); OD Consultant (Human Capital Innovations). Read Jonathan Westover's executive profile here.



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