After being in education for so long, it's pretty hard to believe that I've been in full-time work for just over a year now. So much of these past twelve months has been spent finding my way, finding out what I want, and more importantly - finding out what I don't want. But now, I can see that all the celebrating, the tears, the frustration, and the pure accomplishments have all been worth it. Today, I'm sharing the biggest lessons I've learnt during my first year of full-time work.
Your first job will never really be your dream job
Neither will your second or third for that matter. You're very lucky if you find your first job to be the one you want to stay in forever. It takes patience, persistence and a real sense of self to find the career you want to spend the rest of your life doing.
It's not enough to just have passion
Passion is amazing. You can be good at what you do and enjoy what you do without passion. But is passion what gets you through 365 days a year doing the same work at the same place? Not so much. It takes dedication, determination, and strategic thinking. Passion will always help you, but you can't expect to grow in your career without taking action and pushing yourself forward.
Competition is healthy
Don't you think life would be boring without a bit of friendly competition? If you enjoy what you do, you want to try and be the best, especially in your industry. It's definitely important to have friends in business but it's still crucial to have competition. And remember, if you believe in the strength of your ideas, who's to say there has to be competition? You can set yourself and the company you work for apart by tone, brand values, aesthetic and the way you present yourself as a member of your company's brand.
People affect everything
No matter where you go through your life and no matter what you end up doing, you'll come across the same shitty people who think they're better than you. Who laugh when you get something wrong, who thrive on your quietness and introverted ways. But soon enough, you'll overcome these people. You'll overpower them. You'll do better than them. They'll make you throw things, they'll make you cry - but they won't take away your knowledge, skill and passion. Remember that.
Don't let anything undermine you
This is the hard one. There are lots of things that will try you during your first full-time year of work. Situations you'll never have come across before and things you'll never have seen before. Your talent, qualifications and experience won't matter to some people. They'll think you're trying to be better than them. If you come across this in the office, leave immediately. It won't get better and you'll just put yourself in even worse circumstances. You deserve better.
Mistakes will happen
I've made three big mistakes during my first year of full-time work and they've all been with the choices I've made in terms of my job. At the time, I found it all difficult to accept. Now I see. Yes, they may not have been the best experiences of your life. But as much as you may hate to say it, they'll have benefitted you for the better. Every mistake that comes your way you'll learn from. And when it crops up again, you'll know what to do.
Don't be afraid to ask
You ask - you'll learn. My line manager said to me earlier this month that you learn the most from answering calls, listening to people and asking. What makes it even better is that when I ask a question, she always answers and people in my current business go out of their way to help me. I've learnt so much in these past two months than I've learnt at any of my other jobs. If you're not sure of something, it's better to ask and try your best, rather than guess and get it wrong.
You also don't know what opportunities are going to come your way through asking. If you hear that a colleague is struggling with a project, why not ask if you could help them out? You never know how big of a part you might play in something and where it might lead to. It might be nerve-wracking reaching out, but you never know. Just think of the possibilities.
Under-promise and over-deliver
Some of the people who inspire me the most in my personal life and online life have said this statement before. Set low expectations and blow people away. During my temporary role in this company I work for now (before getting the permanent job) I didn't give everything away. I kept a few tricks up my sleeve just in case I got shortlisted. When I did, and a presentation came my way, I told them some of my secrets and blew my now permanent colleagues away. I'm continuing to learn this everyday with my abilities and in everything I do - there'll always be things people can learn about you. Surprise them.
Check, double check and then check again
Seeing an error in something you've created is a horrid feeling. For me, my stomach lurches. Which is why I wrote one of my lessons above as accepting that mistakes will happen. But don't just check one. Don't just finish a piece of work and sign it off. Check it on the screen, check it by hand, get someone else to check it and repeat. This is how you over deliver. We've just had our college prospectus delivered. There's a spelling error in a prospectus from one of our competitors. There are no mistakes in ours.
Don't think you have to achieve so much so young
With our generation, there seems to be a perception that we have to achieve so much at such a young age. We want to be managers, CEOs and bosses younger than anyone who has done it before. But your career isn't a race. Let it become one and you'll miss it all. That kind of personal growth, the slow, intentional kind, will really take you to where you want to be.
Your family will always be there for you
There were some dark days during the first year of my career, I won't lie to you. I remember sitting in my car in Stockport after work, crying and wondering how to get home because the petrol station wouldn't serve me. I remember coming home crying after a day in another job because I didn't know what more I could do to prove myself. Every time something like this happened, my family were there for me. I could never thank them enough. They supported me throughout it all. They advised me, but never made a decision for me - they always let me make my own decisions and supported me when I made them. They pushed me in the right places and now here I am.
Work isn't everything. No matter how much you love what you do, it's never more important than your family. Jobs come and go. Your family doesn't move.
Don't feel bad about moving around to get experience
With every notice I handed in and every new change in direction this past year, I always had to think about what this would look like on my CV. But what I've learned is that if you can explain it, you don't have to worry. I've explained my career journey to many different people now and not one person has judged me. They've understood. Understood, because all these experiences lead you to where you're supposed to be.
On the day of my interview for the job I started on Monday, my amazing other half kept saying to me, 'this is what you've worked for. Everything in your life has led to this point.'
What do you know - he was right.
How long have you been in your career for! Can you relate to some of these points? What are some of the important lessons that you've learnt?