“You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.” ~ Wayne Gretzky
Last week March 7th marked my 1 year anniversary at my first post-grad job. I feel like I only started a few months ago yet I’ve grown so much since then. Professionally, personally, financially and socially. With 12 months under my belt, I thought this would be a good time to share the little knowledge and wisdoms I’ve gained over the past year.
1) Soft skills are more important than your hard skills. Apart from managing my dissertation at university, I’d never done any project management related work. However, the soft skills that I had made it easier for me to grasp the concept of project management in the real world. Have a willingness to be the best at what you do even if you don’t know exactly what you’re doing can take you far.
2) Nothing will make sense at first. Unless you’ve been there done that and bought the post card, you’ll feel like a fish out of water. From the jargon used during meetings to socialising with co-worker, you will feel a little alien but will soon settle after a few months.You’re in a new environment so it will take some time to adapt but trust me it will happen. You don’t have to force it.
3) It’s OK not to know. Asking questions is your new weapon. Even stupid questions. It’s better to ask a stupid question than to make a stupid mistake. You can’t play the I don’t know card for long if you want to progress. But think about the question before asking.
4) It’s OK to say no. Being the unqualified newbie, you want to please everybody. That should include yourself. Know your limits and make sure it is known by others. If you are valued then your time should also be valued. A justified no is better than a regretful yes.
5) 24 hours just isn’t enough. Working 9 to 5 will make you realise just how little time you have for yourself. How did my mum do this plus go to university and raise 3 kids? This will make you realise the true importance of organisation skills and why diaries are so useful.
6) Clients will always think they are right. No matter how mistaken the client is, they are never allowed to feel your frustration even if they show it to you. You must always control your emotions and learn to articulate your frustrations in the nicest way. It takes practice and a lot of proof-reading (from you and others). Don’t let anyone (especially clients) cause you to step out of character because you are responsible for your actions, not them.
7) Your manager is your confidant. If there is one person in the office you should be confiding in about your work it should be your manager. They should have your best interest at heart and are in the position of making things happen that can make your work life easier. If you can’t confide in them about work then they shouldn’t be managing you.
8) It’s not all about the money. Your first job should really be about experience more than money. Don’t turn away an opportunity just because of money. If I did, I wouldn’t be doing a job I’d never done before and loving a company I’d never heard of before. Learn to crawl before you can walk and soon you will be climbing.
9) Money does help. At first it may not be about the money but once you have some experience and grow as a person you start to understand your value. You now have some experience to back up the salary you expect and the confidence to get it. If you focus on being the best, the money will come to you. Your job should not only repay you but reward you for the work you do.
10) Speaking gets easier. Whether it’s speaking in a meeting, to a client or participating in office banter; the freedom to express yourself appropriately gets easier after a few months. It’s not a popularity contest in the real world. Your work speaks louder than your words. As you gain more confidence in the work you do, your words will find confidence too.
11) Every mistake is knowledge. When I’ve made a mistake I’ve never forgotten it. Why? Because failure is the best teacher. You’ll make mistakes during the first few months but slowly you’ll see how your mistakes turn to knowledge that prevent others from making the same mistakes.
12) Culture fit/match is a big deal. You may like the work you do and how much you make but the company culture makes a huge difference. Finding a company that fits with your culture will make the Monday mornings and late nights much more bearable. You’ll find that your work-life balance is easier to manage and lessons 1 – 11 become much easier to grasp in a company culture that fits with you.
Going into the real world isn’t easy. When you finish university, you’re launched into a world you feel is too grown up for you. A world that reminds you just how much you don’t know. You can no-longer hide behind the fancy words on your CV or the grades you got at university. You are put to the test – as a graduate and a person.
Though going into the real world isn’t easy; with the right support system, attitude and vision, it isn’t hard either.
A lot can happen in 12 months and I’m excited for what the next 12 months will bring. Will I still be in the same role, at the same company with the same positive vibes I have today? We’ll see.
What was the most important lesson you learned from your first entry-level job? What advice would you give to someone starting out in their career?
Get in touch, tweet me @lydonlifeblog or share your experiences and tips with everybody in the comments.
Till next time.
Lydia x | https://lydonlife.wordpress.com
P.s: Here are some other articles I found interesting on first job lessons: