Advice from an Inbound Marketer
When I first got my job at Inbound Marketing Agents, I was a fresh-faced recent college graduate. With a Bachelor’s degree in one hand and a resume in the other, I was confident that I had learned everything there was to know about the “real world” and that nothing could stop me now. I was so wrong.
Plenty of things about being a part the workforce have thrown me for a serious loop – some of those things were expected, but some were definitely not. As a recent grad and a cookie cutter millennial, I’ve earned my fair share of takeaways during my first year of working full-time. If I could pass on just a pinch of what I’ve learned to those about to enter their own workforce, it would be these seven nuggets of advice:
Don’t Stop Learning
I hate to be this person, but I’m about to be this person – learning doesn’t stop after graduation. It sounds cliché, but it’s entirely true. Feverishly flipping through your textbook before your final isn’t the last time you’ll study in your adult life. Learning – and studying – will be a hugely important part of your first job.
While college is meant to mold you into an intelligent, hireable, member of society, the likelihood of finding a job for which you’re perfectly prepared is slim to none. I speak from personal experience when I say that you’ll have to do a lot of research and studying outside of work to prepare for a new job, even if it’s in a field you studied in college. Picking up new skills, learning new software and techniques, and gaining a better understanding of your company take time and patience, so don’t forget all those study skill you (hopefully) picked up in school.
Re-Evaluate Your Priorities
My priorities from my college days look way different than they do now that I have a job. In college my priorities pretty much consisted entirely of hanging out with my friends, eating delicious foods, and drinking delicious drinks. School and work were obviously important, but definitely afterthoughts on my list of priorities in life.
When I was searching for a job, I certainly didn’t want a job around which my entire life revolved, but my thoughts have kind of changed since actually attaining a job. Now that I’m sitting at a desk from 8 to 5 every day, my priorities aren’t staying out as late as I can – they’re going to bed as early as possible. I don’t try to use all of my free time traveling and going to parties – I use it to actually relax. And I don’t like my job because the work is easy and I can get my shift covered in a pinch – I like it because I actually find my work fulfilling.
Rearranging your priorities doesn’t have to turn your life into something as boring as mine sounds though. I’m a lazy lady, and staying home after work to genuinely relax instead of staying out late to party has been an appropriate change for me – it has also allowed me to be a better employee than I ever could have been otherwise. Just don’t expect to start a new job and keep your old lifestyle. If you do, you may find that you end up disappointed.
Eat Well (and Pack Your Own Lunch)
I can’t emphasize this point enough – eat healthy food. While nothing feels like better fuel than junk food, nothing is actually worse fuel. Snacking on Cheez-Its and ordering in pizza to eat while you work is easy and quick, but it will ultimately hurt your ability to get work done – and cost you a ton of cash.
Take the time at night or on the weekends to make healthy, energy-packed meals to eat at work. You’ll be able to power through your day with ease and you’ll pick up an extremely valuable (and attractive) life skill in the process; nobody can turn down someone who cooks well.
If you’re reading this article in the earnest hope of finding tips on what it’s like to have your first adult job, you’re more than likely a millennial just like me. You grew up in the glorious ‘90s watching Power Rangers, listening to The Spice Girls, and counting down to Y2K. You spent your whole life being told by your parents, teachers, and every movie you ever watched that you should “Follow your heart!” and “Reach for the stars!”. While telling this to children is certainly a great way to boost their confidence, it’s also one hell of a way to teach them that they can have anything they want in life whenever they want it.
I’m not bashing millennials for this – after all, I’m one of them – I’m simply explaining why it is that you’re going to be extremely tempted to quit your first job. When your work seems overbearing, your boss is mean, your hours suck, and all you really want to do is throw a Frisbee in the park, resist the urge to put in your two weeks notice. If everyone quit doing something the first time they had a bad time, we’d still be in the Stone Age. Unless a great new opportunity presents itself to you, stick it out in your first job for a year. It will help you build character and perseverance as well as prove to future employers that you are a steadfast, diligent worker.
One Word: Coffee
Coffee is my drug of choice, one I indulge in multiple times a day every day. Call me an addict all you want – I’ll stop drinking coffee when it stops helping me wake up and power through my stack of work.
Not to encourage addictive behaviors, but if you feel yourself hitting a slump after lunch every day (who doesn’t?), give a cup of coffee a try. Alternatively, if you hate coffee, you can give black or green tea a shot.
Ask for Help
If you’re introverted and nervous around strangers like I am, you can probably imagine how difficult it can be to enter a new professional environment with a lot of questions. When I started my job at IMA, I withheld a lot of important questions I had for fear of looking like an idiot right out of the starting gate. I thought that I would look better if I pretended to know what was going on and looked up the answers later on. But you know what? Asking a question at the risk of looking stupid is much smarter than feeling lost and trying to hide your incapability.
Chances are, your bosses and superiors expect you to have tons of questions about your new job, so don’t feel shy in throwing them out there! If it’ll help you get your job done better so that you can prove what an asset you are, then it’s worth asking.
Be Confident in Yourself
Even though you’ll have questions about your job, it’s important to be confident in yourself. Don’t be afraid to take on projects because they’re new to you. Don’t stay quiet when you have valuable information to add for fear of being wrong. If someone has hired you to work for them, they hired you for a reason, so don’t shy back! Having confidence in yourself is the first step to success, because you can’t succeed if you don’t believe that you can.