Stripped Back with Alex Young, Projects
Founder of Favourite Positions and newly appointed Director of Strategy, Brand and Culture at shared work space provider, Projects, Alex Young outlines how she got into the position she's in and what she's loving at work.
I’ve recently become the Director of a company that just over 3 years ago, I was working an entry level job for. My career to date has been fast paced and I’ve learnt a lot in a short space of time. Some lessons were more painful than others but I’m a firm believer that there are positive sides to any experience. In this guide, I go into what I've done to get to where I am now, the 'mistakes' I've made along the way and what I'm most excited about for both Favourite Positions and Projects.
Following the usual format for the guides on the Favourite Positions website, I'll start by telling everyone what I do for work and what I love most about it.
I run the Favourite Positions platform which consists of recording episodes for the podcast, writing guides for the site and managing the social media accounts - all of which are designed to help people find what they love to do. I'm also the Director at Projects, specifically for Strategy (planning the next steps for the company), Brand (taking care of all things marketing and events) and Culture (caring for the team and ensuring the members and visitors have the most positive experience possible).
At Projects, our mission is to provide a home for better business. We create and operate inspiring spaces that make everyone feel included. With 2 beautiful buildings open in the heart of Brighton and many more set to open across the UK, Projects is proud to house a community of collaborative businesses. It's so fulfilling to be part of the team again, having started my career in the shared work space industry with Projects back in 2018, taking a role on the front desk in the first building. We collectively believe as a team that economic success can and should also have a positive impact on people and the planet.
Through our spaces and programmes, we empower individuals and teams to reach their full potential, personally and professionally, within a supportive environment.
I love everything about what I do but if I had to pick one main part, it would be seeing those around me progress, personally and professionally, and playing a part in that however I can.
So, in this part of our guides, the writer usually explains how they got into the position they're in. I'm going to outline what I thought I had to do at first to progress. I was so wrong:
✖ Stay at work after hours just to prove I worked hard
✖ Say I could do things that I couldn't
✖ Work even when I was unwell (physically and/or mentally)
✖ Bite my tongue if I didn't agree with something or had other ideas
Here's what I did to progress that actually worked:
✔ Took accountability when mistakes were made and learned from them accordingly
✔ Trained up and soaked up as much knowledge as I could for continued improvement
✔ Hired a team of talented people to help me
✔ Spoke with conviction and only spoke when I had something valuable to add
The advice I want to give to anyone looking to get into this industry, or any industry, to be honest, is simple and it is as follows:
You should be wanting to work smart, not hard.
It's your duty to yourself, to everyone you care about and the causes you believe in to try to prevent yourself from burning out, or pull yourself into recovery and preservation mode if you feel you're going down that dangerous path.
The person struggles to manage their time and expectations and therefore stays in the office until 7pm is not the one to idolise. You have to be realistic about what’s achievable and communicate that with your team, then remind yourself that your work patterns will be noticed by your team and so you have to practise what you preach. I’m so glad I know this now and I’ll always make time to support those around me that have a lot on and are finding it difficult to ‘fit it all in’. Sometimes it really is as simple as not fitting everything in, reprioritising and getting help.
The person who works even when unwell is not more dedicated. You have every right to rest up, get better, and then work at full capacity. You owe that to yourself - first and foremost - and again, you need to set a positive example for those around you, too. I regret the times I worked whilst burning out. There were times I struggled to string sentences together because my brain felt so fried. I felt I could sleep for a week as soon as I arrived at work, genuine exhaustion setting in from getting up and ready, pre 9am. I even remember needing to use hot water bottles to keep warm when it wasn’t cold outside because my body was struggling to regulate my temperature because I hadn’t given it enough rest.
We are human beings, not robots. We do not exist just to work, we need to just ‘be’ and do that regularly. Now, I put my relaxation higher up on my priority list than my ‘to-dos’.
I'm so excited to be releasing new episodes of the Favourite Positions podcast and a whole range of events at Projects! You can get in touch with me directly at any point if you want to chat about anything mentioned in this guide or your own progression. I love nothing more than chatting about finding things people love to do and it's also always a joy to get to know more of you so please do reach out if you want to.
This guide forms part of the Stripped Back series which have been designed to provide open, honest and encouraging information. They're a chance for you to understand the real ups and downs those being featured have experienced in their journeys to date. The aim is to demystify entry points to certain industries, as well as outline tangible advice for those looking to get into a new area of work. We hope you enjoyed this guide.