Welcome to the real world, bitches. I would like to personally congratulate you on entering this phase of your life. Look at you, all bright eyed and bushy tailed. Ready to dive in head first, huh? Well, prepare yourself. The next few years are gonna get a little bumpy.
It’s a scary ride, figuring out all you’re meant to do and be in this big bad world, but believe me, it’ll all make sense one day. So buckle up and enjoy it while you can because the magic happens in the trenches. In the moments where you break, where you hit rock bottom, those moments of being lost and terrified to make the next move. Trust me, that’s where the growth starts. And every single second is completely worth it in the end.
1. Find your passion and let that fuel your drive.
What is it that really drives you? Think of jobs you’ve had in the past. These can be real jobs, school projects, sorority functions, charity events, etc. What types of tasks and projects excite you the most? What type of job would make you excited to wake up and hit the ground running each morning?
Still can’t figure it out? Think about this. What are you doing when you lose all track of time? When your mind is the calmest, and when you don’t have a care in the world? What do you lose yourself in? Start there.
2. Sell the hell out of yourself no matter how little experience you have.
Every job out there these days wants you have a college degree and also experience. Now, maybe it’s just me, but those things don’t typically happen simultaneously. What recruiters seem to have forgotten is that you obviously have to spend time getting that degree before you’re going to be joining the workforce. *insert eye roll*
So, what to do next? Be creative. It doesn’t matter if your fluff up your resume a bit to get that interview. Just sell the hell out of yourself when you get there.
I’m not saying lie, I’m just saying dig a little deeper. You can absolutely turn a baby-sitting gig into “excellent time management, organization, and adaptability skills” or that one time you wrote a super emo love poem to your asshole ex-boyfriend and then drunkenly recited it to him to “a passion for superior written and oral communication” or “outgoing”. Remember that lemonade stand you and your kindergarten BFF made $20 off of during the summer? Perfect. You now have economic profit and loss skills, as well.
They don’t need all the details, they just need to think you can do the job. You can learn how to actually do it, later.
3. Find a mentor and learn as much as you can from them.
The second you get hired anywhere, start watching those around you. I guarantee you within 2 weeks, you’ll have everyone figured out. You’ll know who to stay away from, who doesn’t do their job well, who runs the show, and who to respect.
Take the person at the highest position that you have the most respect for, and become their mini-me. Learn everything you can about the company, about the staff, about the vision, about what the company needs from you (or what they’re truly looking for in the future) and about how they got where they are.
Do this for one year and you’ll be shocked at how much you grow.
4. Ask the right questions (because staying silent never got anybody anywhere).
The only thing staying silent will ever accomplish is making sure you also so stagnant. One of my favorite leadership trainings (by John Maxwell) once said that for every new person you meet, ask the question “who do you know that I should know?”
You’ll be surprised how far that gets you. Ask all the questions. Annoy the hell out of anyone who will answer you. Never stop learning how to be better at what you do.
5. Say yes as often as you can without losing yourself.
I know, you’re busy. You want to maintain a social life. You want to sleep. All I can say to that is wah, wah, wah. You can sleep when you’re dead.
I’m kidding. You can sleep once you’ve worked your ass off enough to climb the ladder and be in charge of other people to do the grunt work for you.
Everyone needs to pay their dues. Especially in a corporate world. So, suck it up, say yes to alllll the boring menial tasks you’re given, and do them excellently and without complaint.
Trust me, someone will notice your efforts and reward them for it.
6. Kiss ass, but only to someone who can help you grow.
Get those coffees. Organize those files. Walk their dogs, get their dry cleaning, take out the trash, call their moms………ok, ok, that’s gone too far.
But you get the point. Get close to the people that are gonna get you where you want to be, and cut the lightweight.
7. Figure out your core values and stay true to them.
This part can take some time. After all of that saying yes and kissing ass, you’re gonna get to a point where you have to figure out what you stand for on your own, apart from your mentors, bosses, and colleagues. It’s ok that you don’t agree with everyone. You shouldn’t. But at least know exactly what you don’t agree with and why.
Really dig deep and figure out what areas of your life and your business you aren’t willing to compromise on. These can be ethical issues, moral issues, your own personal beliefs.
What values do you have that when called in to question, you would fight for. What do you stand for. Know those and never ever compromise.
8. Learn how to hack a professional wardrobe on a budget.
Trust me, I know all too well that going from 7 days a week of nike shorts and Greek life t-shirts to a full-on professional wardrobe is overwhelming. And expensive AF.
Here’s how to pull it off without taking out a small personal loan or asking your parents for even more money.
Step 1: Shoes. Black & Nude. Flats, not heels. Because you may be running your ass off that first year trying to prove yourself. Invest in cute but comfortable shoes to get you through that day. Make sure they can effortlessly go from pants suit to dresses.
Step 2: Pants. Just get 2 or 3 great pairs of black pants (either skinny legged, nice looking leggings, or trouser legs). Rotate them out throughout the week if you need to. No-one will notice, I promise.
Step 3: Dresses. Take literally any dress in your closet that isn’t low cut and meets your old high school hem line standards, put a cardigan or blazer with it, and tights.
Step 4: Cardigans, blazers, and tops. Get 5 shirts, solid colors that can you rotate with pants or skirts, and cardigans or blazers to match.
Voila, you’re professional now.
9. Learn how to communicate effectively.
Enough Said. Know when to speak and when to listen. Know not only the point you want to make, but how to make it quickly and effectively, without pissing too many people off, and always, always, know the research or data to back up what you’re saying.
10. Learn how to take criticism without letting it get to you.
Taking criticism and feedback effectively is 100% essential to you learning and growing as a professional. If you’re a sensitive person, remember that generally it’s not about you, it’s about the good of the client or consumer you’re dealing with. Doing your job well reflects on your entire company. That means that even those assholes that are always rude to you about your performance probably have something to teach you. Suck it up and listen.
And if all else fails, fake it ’til you make it