It’s not always a dream job
It was almost a crutch to have interned with the National Hockey League in New York. It set my standards for jobs incredibly high and I made the assumption that all offices functioned like headquarters did- that all departments were as fun, laid-back and understanding as the digital design department. Two out of my four post-grad jobs I consider ‘cool’ jobs: ones where I love what I’m doing am proud to say where I work, and my designs are being seen by large audiences. My other two jobs are where I learned the most and taught me lessons that I use day to day in every position and freelance project. Life isn’t going to hand you your dream career on a silver platter, and that’s a good thing.
People are assholes
Just a few months into my very first post-grad, salaried position my mom was diagnosed with stage four metastatic breast cancer. I was 8 hours away from home and an absolute wreck in dealing with the distance. Some of my employers could not have been more understanding of the situation during my mom’s battle and gave a mile when I asked for an inch in order to accommodate. One, on the other hand, saw the inconvenience the travel and emotional distress would cause for their company and pretty much asked me to hit the road before she even started treatment. Looking back I’m blessed for the burden, not only because I ended up starting a new job a few weeks later that I put in my ‘cool job’ category, but because I realized right away that at some companies you are simply an employee or a number that can be replaced in even the most awful of ways. It helped me to look for signs of this red flag in other companies I interviewed with. It was a big blow given the circumstances, but it shaped my needs from a company in present and future roles.
Organization, organization, organization
I was a freak about being organized in college; my planner obsession always kept my busy schedule managed. When I started my first job I realized that having to write down every single thing that I had to do was unrealistic (and messy). And when you have the memory of a dog like I do, you really do have to write down every single thing. After learning about Asana in a previous internship, I started finding other ways to stay on top of projects digitally, and am always looking for new ways to keep up with my ever changing to-do list.
Keep in Touch
Some of my very favorite humans are former colleagues. Whether they have a freelance opportunity, need some recommendations for one of the million cities I’ve lived in, or just want to say hi; I try to make it a point to keep a line open at every company that I’ve worked for. And while personal recommendations and references are very slowly becoming a thing of the past, it never hurts to have the approval directly from someone who has worked with you in a professional setting.
If you do something wrong, forget about a deadline, miss a spelling error, etc. own up to it. Being dishonest in general is something to avoid, but being dishonest in the workplace should be dodged even more. Take responsibility for your mistake and figure out how to avoid making it again in the future.
Avoid the high school stuff
My mom used to always say mean girls never stop being mean girls, they just become mean women. It’s very easy to get caught up in workplace gossip and the politics of it all, but if you just sit back, do your job and treat people well, your life and your job will be a lot easier in the workplace. Be friendly with your coworkers but make sure that when you go to work your main priority is getting your job done.
You learn more at your first job than you do during four years of college
I’m sure most people can agree that looking back at college you actually had no idea what the real world was going to be. Even those friends of mine that paid their way through college, whether it be rent, sorority dues, or tuition- life really hits you when you graduate. All of the bullshit resumes you put together in business classes, the cover letters you wrote for internships, and in my case, designs I made for assignments- most get thrown in the trash when it comes to a real-world position.
What are some of the best lessons you’ve learned from your post-grad positions?