I find myself in a predicament. I’ve got all these young’ins working with me and day after day I am mentoring, coaching and bestowing tips I didn’t even know I knew! So much so I’ve compiled my 5 tips for managing your first career
For a long time I was the youngest. I graduated school by 20, 2 years ahead of my friends which put me in an early position to start that whole career thing. I have a degree in costume design so when I landed in advertising, I hadn’t a clue what I should be doing. All I knew is if I worked hard, like really really hard-I should be fine.
So I did. I kept working hard and it worked. And now at 33 I find myself in a career I love, managing my own time, working on things I really enjoy and with people I call friends. You can’t get better than that. So what are these 5 tips for managing your first career? Trust me, they’re not tough and anyone can start now…
- Show Up: That doesn’t sound tough right? Should be easy? This is by far the easiest piece of advice I can give. Show up. If it’s your first job chances are it’s likely not your dream job. That’s totally cool! In the beginning, all you need to do is get a job. Just a single job. At this job you can start to learn what you like and don’t like about working. Maybe you thought you loved a laid back vibe but you’re actually more of a structured office person? Maybe you want some work and life separation? Learning what do you don’t like is as important as learning what you do like. Show up mentally and physically to your job and you’ll do okay.
- Do it with Urgency: Let’s be honest-if this is your first job, chances are you don’t have the slightest idea what you’re doing. Even it happens to be in the field you studied in school-working is probably nothing like you thought it would be. Newsflash- everyone’s in the same boat. So how do you differentiate yourself? Show up and do it fast. If someone asks for something by Friday, have it done by Thursday. Seriously. Again seems easy but if you do it with urgency, you demonstrate you’re there and you want it. I swear I got my second job just because I did projects faster than other people…not for any other reason than that.
- Play the part: So we’ve already established we likely don’t know what we’re doing right? Again-totally cool because nobody does. However, we can look like we know what we’re doing by simply dressing and acting the part. Prior to starting your job you’ve seen what people are wearing right? Dress like them. You’ve also likely heard how they speak. Speak like them. People like people like them and if you can exemplify your colleagues, you’re going to be welcomed into the job jungle. One of the best pieces of advice I ever got was when I was at my first job. My then boss (who was 27…ancient as far as I was concerned) pulled me aside and said “Fake it until you make it”. Words to live by my friend.
- Take Notes: In order to look like you know what you’re doing when you don’t, you’re going to need to take notes. Lots and lots of notes. In meetings people say things all the time. Take notes. Take notes and reference them. If you can remember what people said-you’re going to do far better than most people. Also, take notes on yourself! Do you have questions about something? Make a note of it and bring it to a meeting with your boss. If you have a weeks worth of questions by the time you meet with your boss you’re going to look like an insane go-getter.
- Earn it: People say this all the time and I think it has a negative connotation. “Earn it” doesn’t have to mean put in more hours than most people or do work on the weekends. Earn it simply means show up, do it fast, play the part and take some notes. You do all that-you’ll earn that promotion or next role soon enough.