I can't help but get sentimental as I see some of my close friends graduating next week. My best friends have accepted full time jobs within their area of study, which is a huge blessing! That doesn't happen for everyone. It's crazy to look back a year ago in April I was just beginning to navigate working full time and accepting my first "big girl" job. I have learned SO much since then, so I thought I would give some advice to those who are in the same boat as I was trying to navigate the professional work world after college, or even those starting an internship here soon!
1. Don’t be afraid to reach for the stars
Don’t cheat yourself, what do you want to do? And how will you achieve it? When I was little I told my mom that I wanted to be a princess. She probably chuckled and thought “haha, nice one. Doesn’t everybody?” Well, in college I was a Disney princess that would perform at events and birthday parties. Mainly Elsa, Cinderella, and the occasional Sleeping Beauty. Just goes to show, that no dream is too crazy! You just have to be honest with yourself and vocal about it, you have to put yourself out there and not just expect it to come to you.
2 There are no small jobs
Just like my theater coach used to say “there are no small parts, only small actors.” No job is insignificant. If you are not starting out exactly where you want to be, good! You will have a goal to achieve.
3. Be Confident
You are capable, you are smart, you are important. Don’t forget that, especially on the hard days when everyone is frustrated or upset with you. Especially during job training when you feel as dumb as a pile of rocks.
4. But be coachable
Lean from your mistakes. Own up to them. Take your coworkers critiques and use them to make yourself better, instead of going into the nearest bathroom stall and sobbing (guilty of this a couple of times, see number 13.
5.Have a journal of goals
If you don’t write it down, you don’t have the confidence that you can go for it.
6.Have a stellar resume
This is incredibly important. My sister is a graphic designer, and I utilized her skills/talents to help me create a stellar resume that has given me many great opportunities. When I submitted it freshman year for my Intro Into Event Management course, I got a B- on it. Probably because it stands out, and is not your average resume. Well, this resume has helped me get an interview many times. If your resume stands out, you will stand out. And then you will make it to the next round…. Interviews! Where you can really shine and show your personality! So yes, resumes are important and shouldn’t be half-a**ed. In fact, the CEO of a company I worked for told me that when he saw my resume in the stack he told my boss to take a look at me, just based on my resume alone. Because it stood out. Where I currently am, there were so many applicants that the stack of resumes was 3-4 inches thick. I can't help but think that my resume was one of the leading factors to my current position.
7. Be honest with yourself about what you want and need in a job
Do you need a flexible schedule, or a fixed schedule? Do you hate collaborating with others on projects, or do you work best in a team environment? Are weekends and evenings okay for working or would you prefer an 8-5 job? How much flexibility do you want? Don't just accept a job because they want you if you know it won't be a sustainable job that you can see yourself doing for a long time. There's no shame in figuring this out along the way.
8. Stand up for yourself, but don’t be a pushover
If you make a mistake, own up to it. Apologize, say how you learned from it, and move on. Everyone doesn’t hate you, the world will not end. You also don't want to be known as the one who always "caves" or can't say no. People will take advantage of this quality of yours.
9.Keep an open mind
The classes I stayed away from in college were: Hospitality/Lodging, Private Club Management, and any sort of Math! This was because I wasn’t interested in these areas whatsoever. Well, God has an immense sense of humor. My first job out of college was at a private golf club, I currently work at a hotel, and I use math every single day at my job. And I actually like it! This is awesome for two reasons: I have learned so much on the job, and it goes to show that even if you didn’t study something heavily in school you can still be employed in that field!
10. Take care of yourself
Don’t let your job take over your life. It will make you miserable, it will make those around you miserable. Use your lunch break to call your mom, go for a walk, or go to the gym. Drink a lot of water during the day. Be mindful of the food you eat and the sleep you get. You are not a college student anymore, do not try to go out with your friends on weeknights.
11. Learn to laugh at yourself and your mistakes; don’t let them crush you
Everyone makes mistakes. And I mean a LOT of mistakes. Learn to laugh at them instead of mulling them over in your mind. My first “full time” gig was painting houses during the summer before my freshman year of college. Well, I broke the cardinal rule of being a painter: I spilled a whole gallon of paint onto our customer’s landscaping. I just wanted to sob, but my boss said something along the lines of “It’s okay, stuff happens!” (using a different term than stuff). Everyone is human. No one is perfect, and if they seem like they are they are probably good at faking it.
12. Stop apologizing!!!!
When you do make a mistake, apologize. And then get over it! I am a culprit of bottling it up and thinking that everyone hates me for that one thing I did 37 days ago that most likely no one else remembers. The real estate in your brain is too valuable to be an excel spreadsheet summing up all of your mistakes. Own up to it, apologize, and move on. Have you ever noticed that women apologize all the time? I hope this doesn’t seem sexist, but I’ve noticed it within myself. Whenever someone says something that’s negative, I respond by saying “I’m sorry!” or “Oh sorry!” and others (mostly men) have pointed out that I did nothing wrong! I don’t need to keep saying sorry if I didn’t mess up.
13. It’s okay to cry
!!!!!! I am very feminine, soft, and emotional. I used to despise this about myself, but now I just learn to embrace it. Sometimes I just need a good cry for a couple of minutes.
14. Fake it till you make it
This may seem like a sinful thing, however every successful entrepreneur I have met has told me this. You may never feel “good enough”, but others will think you are. This doesn’t mean lying on your resume or social media to gain attention. This means to put something into motion you need to help guide it, and you have to believe you have what it takes to do that. Heck, I’ve filled up my whole videography calendar year after being in business for just over 6 months. Do I always feel like I am 100% perfect and put together? Definitely not. But I am striving to learn every day.
15.Get to know your coworkers
This will make those long days bearable. Find something in common, even if you butt heads a bit and don’t agree on everything. Let it be known that you have their back, and I’m sure in return they will have yours. I just recently finished all 9 seasons of The Office and couldn’t help but picture myself as Pam in our office. If you haven’t watched The Office and you work at an office job, I highly recommend. It’ll make every day just a bit more enjoyable as you picture your coworkers as Michael Scott and Dwight Schrute.
Call them references, mentors, whatever you want. I like to call them my personal cheerleaders. They are extremely vital for you to achieve your professional goals. Your references are detrimental to landing your dream job after the resume, and interview have done their job. The reference is the icing on the cake, and choosing individuals who know your strengths and weaknesses and have worked with you will give you credibility. Plus, they keep you accountable.
17. You won’t love every part of your job
There will be parts that you love, and there will always be at least one or two things that you don’t like doing. Even if it is your dream job. Even if you are your own boss. But you will learn and grow from doing these things that you hate.
You will most likely not land in your dream job right away. You will need to build up skills and a portfolio along the way. Enjoy the process. Learn skills and tasks that you will stretch you. You never know what door might open for you.
It is so fun for me to see how my friends have been using their gifts. One of my college best friends is an incentive meeting coordinator. She gets to travel to places like Panama, California, and Arizona to coordinate events for her clients! Another friend of mine will be working in a Hilton hotel in Denver Colorado coordinating their socials and weddings. My sister is a web designer. She is the full package: graphic designer, coder, SEO wiz, and knows so much about technology and websites. It mostly goes over my head. My husband Lucas will be starting a co-op for the next 6 months working as a test engineer. I can barely describe what he will be doing, but it is his dream opportunity. My best friend from home scored the perfect job with the city of Pella where she helps manage their social media and other services. She is a social media wiz with the most creative eye.
It truly feels like we just started college, and now we are out in the working world doing our thing and making a difference. What a fun season of change!