I like to think I’ve come a long way from my 21 year-old-self. Coming out of university I had no idea what to do with my degree or where the last 4 years of schooling would take me. I entered my undergrad thinking I was going to be something completely different than where I am today. When I’ve felt discouraged about my career, I’ve often turned to advice articles from some of the biggest CEO’s expressing their failures and learnings. This got me thinking that perhaps recent grads or young people entering the workforce might be interested in hearing from someone who’s been in the same boat as them not too long ago, riding the waves of establishing your career path.
My hope is that you learn a lesson or two from what I’ve learned along the way and the mistakes I’ve made so far. It could save you some sleepless nights and calories from binging on ice cream. Here are my top 5 tips:
Your biggest critic is you
Time and time again, I’ve been the one to put the most pressure on myself. It wasn’t the pressure of my boss, manager or colleague that would stress me out, it was my own voice inside saying that I needed to do more, keep pushing and don’t stop until I get it perfect. That’s not how life works and entering the workforce is a harsh reality check that there are people who will be better at things than you- but that’s okay because you have skills that someone else doesn’t. It’s okay that you’re not the best in everything you do, but remember to be proud of your strengths and showcase them when the opportunity presents itself.
Don’t be concerned with working for the big names right off the bat
I was so obsessed with working for the biggest and the best corporations right out of school. I was going to be working for Google and I truly believed I could. Taking an internship with a smaller agency wasn’t what I wanted, but I quickly realized I was being given opportunities that I wouldn’t have had elsewhere. With a small team and a mentor that truly cared about my development, I was not only able to work on soft skills, but PR skills that I still use and continue to develop today.
Trust your instincts
There’s been a few instances in my career so far that have been extremely challenging. In PR especially, the nature of our work can be demanding, requiring mental toughness and quick thinking. You need to act fast and trust your judgement. Of course there are moments that require more time and consideration, but more often than not you know more than you think so trust your gut and go with it.
No amount of money will make a bad situation better
If you aren’t happy in your role, no amount of money will ever make the work you do worth it. Trust me, I know all too well that life is expensive and you feel the need to stick it out for the paycheck, but each day you go to work not loving what you’re doing, you’re only hurting yourself. Don’t expect things to change in a situation that continues to prove as toxic or unstable. Bad workplaces do exist, but thankfully they aren’t your forever.
Lead by example and be the type of the leader you want to have
When I think about the leaders, bosses and mentors I’ve had in life my that have earned my respect and taught me the most, they have always treated me as an equal and a partner in the task at hand. I know that if I have to show someone how to do a task or how it needs to be completed, I ensure that I do it to the best of my ability to showcase the level of quality and effort I expect in return. This continues to work well for me, and has been able to develop and foster really strong relationships with colleagues. Each time I’m given the responsibility of leading someone else, it’s easy to picture how I would want to be treated in that scenario and I then in return lead that exact same way.
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