1. Although my first job out of college was neither a permanent position nor my dream gig, I still learned a lot about myself and how the world works. School was wonderful for me and I loved every moment, but it resides in a bubble that doesn’t entirely prepare you for the realities of the workforce. Throughout my six-month stint, I was simultaneously impressed with how people make things happen and flabbergasted at how anyone gets anything done ever.
2. I take immense pride in my work, and that quality is an asset. I am allowed to feel proud of my work, and I should devote my time to a job or project that encourages that and pushes me to do my very best. I will not work at a job or accept a freelance assignment that robs me of that. Life is too short.
3. On so, so, so many instances, I learned that a project is toast without strong and clear communication among team members. If you’re in a managerial position, understanding the need for this kind of communication and facilitating it is very important.There is a significant difference between saying something like “I don’t like the particular word you used” and giving meaningful and constructive feedback. Avoid the former at all costs. I’m working towards being an editor, and maintaining close working relationships — without micromanaging — is integral to running a successful publication. I will never forget that.
4. A work squad was very, very important for my daily and overall sanity, and so was a revolving soundtrack of Hamilton, Kanye West and Wu-Tang Clan. Being able to interact with people made doing very isolating digital work happen, and listening to good music definitely helped. Viva la Gchat.
5. No one told me how hard it is on the body, mentally and physically, to have a full-time job. Office chairs are the worst, and so are car seats. I know why this exhaustion has become part of the culture, but I don’t like it.
6. Everything is an opportunity to strengthen my writing skills, whether that’s writing a two-word headline or a detailed email replying to a questionnaire. Besides my freelance work, 90 percent of the professional writing I did for six months were phrases and sentences shorter than a tweet. At the time, I didn’t know this was a learning opportunity — I learned how to work under character limits I couldn’t push and communicate ideas concisely. This reminded me that I should always pay attention to word choice and syntax, and anticipate the range of reactions the intended audience might have.
7. A lot of people don’t proofread the things they write, even if that writing isn’t for public consumption. It’s irritating.
8. There were people that walked into my life that would not have otherwise if I hadn’t taken the job, which on some level made the schlepping two hours each way and doing deeply shallow work worth it. Personal and professional doors to opportunity opened wide for me. I marvel at the serendipity.
9. One of my biggest realizations was that I was pressuring myself to be immediately successful, and felt stupidly self-conscious when I read about people my age making larger strides. But just because I don’t hit a milestone faster than my peers doesn’t mean I’m not good at something. I am young and have plenty of time to build my career. Slow and steady wins the race.
10. No matter what happens, I love myself and know that everything in my life is going to work out for the best. I trust the universe and its magic.
Do you have thoughts on the post-grad world? Let’s talk about it in the comments.