So you finished your last college final, you’re seeing family, going to graduation parties, and saying farewell to friends. You graduated college — congratulations and best of luck. You’ll need it now that the best part of your life is officially over and it’s all downhill from here (I’m joking, relax).
I was in your shoes not too long ago. I had a job lined up, everything I owned in boxes, and a spot on my relative’s couch for the first few months of my move out west. Onward to adulthood! It’s been a year now and I’ve made plenty of mistakes in the working world — some stupid ones, some not so stupid ones — but the bottomline is I survived. Here are 5 things that would have helped me through my first year:
1. Take a seat at the table (early and often)
Let’s agree: ageism isn’t cool anymore. When teenage millionaires and high-school cancer curers are commonplace, age becomes a non-issue. Don’t be discouraged from weighing in on important issues in the office simply because you feel young or have no prior experience. Sometimes the best opinions don’t come from the person with the most prestigious degree in the room. Your opinions, if you’ve actually invested yourself in them, are worthy of being heard, so take a seat at the table.
2. Learning takes time, so be patient
When I first made it to California, my aunt gave me some great advice:
“Nobody knows what they’re doing.”
It sounded like a platitude to reassure me I wasn’t the only one nervous about my first steps in the real world. But then she brought up being a first-time parent and how there are no books or coaching that prepare you for parenthood. She had to have a child to know. It makes sense that jobs are the same way: you can’t know what to do until you do it.
3. Think critically
You are probably more important than you realize. When I first started at Clari, I spoke with every single person who created an account. I offered a little in-house love and asked them what they thought about their experience, our mission, and the purpose of what we were building. After hundreds (maybe thousands!) of trainings, I learned a thing or two about how our product works and how our customers think. My entry-level sales position quickly expanded into a strategic data-driven role. I was our first line of communication with users, and passed everything I learned to our data-hungry team. That learning is a reason our ADR team is growing so quickly (if you’re open to a change, I’d be happy to convince you it’s a better job than anything else you’ll find. Email me firstname.lastname@example.org).
4. If you’re bored at work, you’re doing it wrong
According to Ken Rosen, the brilliant marketing guy who leaves complexly coherent comments on the blog drafts here at Clari:
If the job is well defined, you've got the rules: crush it, build a rep, and see where it takes you. If it's not well-defined, even better: decide what you should be, prove the value, and keep moving. Either way, you're in charge. And people who think they aren't tend to fail. Miserably.
Now read that again.
It speaks for itself.
5. Ask for forgiveness, not permission
Here’s a quick story: My first internship in college was as an inside sales rep for a small medical IT start-up, which means I was dialing for dollars and my job was to convert live connects into first meetings. Not the most glorious work, but it was something to put on the resume paid the bills. A few weeks into my cold-calling experience, I got a hot lead. They wanted to buy, we agreed on a price right there on the phone (higher than our market price) and they expected me to send over a P.O. signed by my CEO. Two problems: 1) I didn’t know what a P.O. was and 2) my CEO had to sign a contract I shouldn’t have been working on. Perfect. I called my CEO, we straightened things out, I avoided punishment — and got my first commission check! More importantly, I learned a cool lesson: ask for forgiveness, not for permission.
**Not responsible for any actions you do or do not take in or around the workplace. Thank you**
You’re starting out one heck of a journey. There’s going to be ups and there will definitely be downs. If you take one thing away from this blog, it should be this: everything you do today (and the rest of your life) is an investment in your future and the success you will (eventually) see. It’s like putting money away for retirement (which you should actually do too) — the earlier you do it, the quicker you see growth.
Good luck out there.