The transition from college into professional life can be a tricky one. So we asked the experts, successful Millennials, to share what they think is important to keep in mind when building a career.

Nola Weinstein, Steven Olikara and Lindsay Hyde have all created interesting, very different lives for themselves but they do have one thing in common—they are all Coca-Cola Scholars. Since 1989, the Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation has not only been helping students achieve academic success, it continues to help Scholars throughout their career to serve others and help change the world.

Here, these three extraordinary former Coca-Cola Scholars offer up their advice for tackling first-job challenges, handling career-path woes and taking the business world by storm.  

Nola Weinstein, Head of Executive Engagement at Twitter

Q: Can you tell us a little bit about your job?
As Twitter’s Head of Executive Engagement I focus on brand storytelling and corporate influencers. I work with business leaders from around the world to help them better understand the power of the platform and optimize their personal Twitter presence. Additionally, I run executive briefings and innovation tours at Twitter Headquarters.

Q: As these young professionals are looking ahead at their career life, is there any particular advice you would give them about taking the long view?
Remember that what may seem like the wrong path can ultimately lead you in the right direction. In college and graduate school I aspired to be a magazine editor. After graduation, print roles were limited so I jumped into online journalism, which was relatively new at the time. I’m glad I did. Instead of fact checking and fetching coffee, I was reporting front row at fashion week, going backstage at every awards show in Hollywood and covering the media world from the inside. When I became editor-in-chief of Mode Media — previously Glam Media—I oversaw content creation and curation across multiple platforms. That position brought me to Twitter and I am grateful to have immersed myself in digital media when doing so was an unpopular journalistic move.

Q: You are working in the corporate world. Is there anything you found to be a particular challenge when you first started out?
I tend to prefer the startup culture and spirit. I crave innovation and like being around smart, thoughtful leaders who take strategic risks, embrace new ideas and use technology in creative ways. Some of the more traditional corporations and media entities I worked for early on were a bit too set in their ways, which felt stifling and professionally limiting.

Q: What advice would you give recent college graduates to help them make that first job a success?
Regardless of your position take ownership and pride in your work. Seize opportunities that come your way and never utter the words “that’s not my job.” Taking on new challenges and roles will accelerate your career. When I started at Glam six years ago one of the founders, Dianna Mullins, greeted me with a mix of advice and permission: “Do your job, and do it well, but don’t think you have to stay in your lane.” She opened the door for me to get involved in other facets of the company. That access accelerated my growth and gave me tremendous insight outside of the editorial realm and into business development, operations, sales and marketing.

Steven Olikara, Co-founder and President of the Millennial Action Project



Steven Olikara, Co-founder and President of the Millennial Action Project
"Find a mission that’s larger than you and marshal all of your energy and resources to serve that mission."
— Steven Olikara

Q: Can you tell us a little bit about your job and the Millennial Action Project?
I founded the Millennial Action Project in 2012 with a few colleagues. It’s a nonprofit startup dedicated to activating Millennial policymakers and leaders to create post-partisan political cooperation. I oversee all strategy operations, programming and development. 

Q: What skills or traits helped you get where you are today?
Before I got into political reform I was a musician. Through music, particularly jazz, I learned about improvisation. One of the most important skills to have as an entrepreneur is the ability to improvise — to utilize resources that you have available to create something really special and meaningful.

Performance ability is also very important. As leaders, we have a few key moments to shine and when I have those opportunities I try to draw on my years of stage performance to really deliver.

Q: Do you recommend founding your own business organization immediately after college or would you recommend recent graduates work for other people first?
I think it depends on each person. I think both tracks can be valuable, but it takes a very specific set of circumstances and type of person to be successful at founding an organization from scratch after graduating. You have to have a high level of tenacity, a strong mission and a willingness to absorb and take on extraordinary challenges. If you are planning to found something after college I would recommend having co-founders — co-founders who will jump into the project with you full-time.

Q: Is there any other advice or thoughts you'd like to share with readers about creating a happy and successful professional or personal life?
Find your calling. Find a mission that’s larger than you and marshal all of your energy and resources to serve that mission. It won’t be easy. It will require a lot of short-term sacrifice, but we should be thinking about the legacy that we leave on this planet.

Lindsay Hyde, Founder and CEO of Baroo

Q: Can you tell us a little bit about your job and Baroo?
Baroo is a concierge pet services company. We partner with multi-family residential developers (large apartment complexes) to be their on-site pet concierge. We do everything from dog walking to litter-box changes for cats and we deliver right on site.



Lindsay Hyde, Founder and CEO of Baroo
"I've found the most satisfaction in roles where I'm able to connect with the community and have a positive impact." — Lindsay Hyde

My role as the CEO of a startup is to do anything that needs to be done, whether it’s finding new developers for us to partner with, working on our marketing campaign or working directly with our pet parents.

Q: What did you learn by being a Coca-Cola Scholar that has helped you in your professional life?
The community of Coke Scholars was really one of the most valuable components for me. I’ve been fortunate to have people I could go to for advice, for cheerleading when I need a pick-me-up, and people who were similarly committed to really making a difference in their own communities and in the world. Having that group of people be among some of my closest friends has been a powerful part of being a Coke Scholar.

Q: Any particular advice you'd give on finding satisfaction and success?
I've found the most satisfaction in roles where I'm able to connect with the community and have a positive impact. I encourage young people to think about how their job is fulfilling their professional aspirations and satisfaction. But also, how is it giving them an ability to connect back to the community? One of the great things we're seeing from young people today is a focus on the duality of doing good and doing well in your career.