The View from the Ground Floor – Back to Work vs. Back to School
As the long Labor Day weekend beckons, many of us pause to reflect on our work, where we are in our careers, and how happy we are in our jobs. I don’t know about you, but at this time of year I often experience vivid memories of what it was like to go back to school – new clothes, blank notebooks, endless possibilities for the year ahead. In today’s post, our 0-1 year post college Marketing Specialists reflect on what it’s like to make the transition to the corporate environment for the first time.
Hello from the Ground Floor!
For the second installment in the series, we wanted to share some of our initial perspectives and first impressions of life in the working world. We’re each going to take a paragraph or two to describe how the 9-5 life compares to our past experiences, and what we foresee for ourselves in the not-too-distant future. And, as always, we want everyone to chime into the conversation. If you’re just entering the workforce, what are your initial impressions? What are you looking forward to? What challenges do you expect? And, if you’re more of a workforce veteran, what do you think of this influx of young new employees? What do they need to work on, and what are they doing well? As you’ll see in our perspectives below, anything is fair game. Enjoy!
Do you recall your first day at work after college? I remember mine very well, because it was just a few days ago! Sure, I have had part-time jobs and I have completed internships before, but this is not the same. Starting my first job is actually a lot like when I studied abroad in Spain. Once again, I’m the foreigner in a completely different world with its own set of norms and a new language. Who wouldn’t be intimidated when their co-workers are carrying on full conversations solely in ambiguous acronyms, i.e., “FYI, I’ll need the RFP ASAP, preferably EOD, although the deadline is still TBD, OK?” And, could somebody please translate the 401K plans into English? Although entering the workplace has required many adjustments, e.g., going to bed at the same time as my parents again, I’m slowly getting acclimated to this new way of life. And the smallest signs that I belong to this new place, such as wearing an office badge with my name and photo rather than the “temporary” one, receiving my first official business cards, and having fellow employees wave to me in the hallway thrill me because they remind me that I will find my place here. I know that I have a lot to learn, but I also have plenty of room to grow. As far as I can see, it is only up from here!
When I entered college as a journalism major, I hoped that following the completion of my degree, I would become the next Natalie Jacobson (WCVB newscaster for 35 years and alumna of UNH – like me!) or Jackie MacMullan, (Boston Globe and Sports Illustrated columnist, and another UNH alum). However, mid-way through my collegiate career, I realized that while I loved journalism, I did not want to actually be a journalist, and that instead, I wanted to work in marketing. Upon realizing this, I worried that I had made a critical mistake by choosing to specialize in something that I liked during college, and not specifically in a field that I wanted to enter following graduation. I felt that I would be at a severe disadvantage by not having the words “marketing” on my diploma, and I wasn’t sure that employers were going to be interested in hiring someone who hadn’t taken classes that exclusively related to the responsibilities of a marketing job.
Happily, I have already found that having a major outside of your field doesn’t matter, so long as you have gained skills in college that are transferable, and that you have the capacity to gain experience and expertise successfully within a particular field. Not only was I able to obtain a job in marketing, I am meeting people everyday in my department who, like me, did not major in marketing and also have worked in fields outside of marketing. Within the marketing department here, there are former economists, sales representatives, writers, engineers, scientists, and financial analysts, and all of them have a greater base of knowledge and experience due to their varied educational backgrounds and previous jobs. I’ve realized that you are not defined solely by what your title or major declares you to know, and instead, that it is what you learn along the way through your collegiate or professional journey and what you are passionate about, that defines what you do each day.
Going from my first job (a company of 30 people) to my current job (a company of 3400 people) was, and still is, quite a culture shock. Whether it’s wandering down the wrong cubicle aisle or finding out where the free coffee is, it seems that everyday there’s something different to learn about. After a few weeks with the new job, here are few lessons that are helping me smooth out the job transition:
a) Have a lot of conversations. And by conversations, I mean listen. I learned more about potential jobs from just listening than any website or job board. Current and past employees can give you a point of view that you won’t get anywhere else.
b) Be a people person. You don’t have to be the life of the party (or meeting), but speak up when you can. It can be hard to get involved at meetings and into the flow of conversation when you’re new, but at any company the employees are the most valuable resource for not only the bottom line but also for each other. If you’re a little nervous or shy about speaking up (everyone is at times), ask a lot of questions and refer to back to the first suggestion.
What works for you? Post a comment and let us know what you’ve done that has helped you enter the workforce or switch jobs early in your career.