Transitioning to the “real world” can be scary, especially when it comes to getting your first full-time job. Even though I graduated with a degree in public relations, completed nine internships and had worked in a variety of office environments, my transition to the digital marketing/SEO space was stressful. I knew almost nothing about SEO and having prepared for a future in PR, I had to adapt quickly to a whole new way of thinking.
Although there are probably dozens of lessons one could list about their first year in a strategic role, here are the 11 tips that stood out. Hopefully you find them insightful and they help set you up for success.
- Proofread, proofread, proofread. In college, you can BS your way through a paper and still get a decent grade. In the real world, however, your work is going to a client and it has to be absent of typos, grammar mistakes and formatting issues. Personally, I find that that whispering my work to myself helps catch any errors.
- Always ask questions if you don’t understand. I wish when I first started my position that I was more comfortable asking for clarification or an example of the expectations for an assignment. My thought was that I didn’t want to be a nuisance and show that I could tackle an assignment on my own. But it’s better to ask questions to avoid miscommunication.
- Take time to read industry articles when you have a free moment or on lunch break. Many industries are changing every single day and it’s important to stay on top of what’s going on.
- Find time to pick someone’s brain. Depending on where you work, you might not receive as much training as you would like. If there’s a certain topic you want to learn more of that someone on your team is very knowledgeable about, approach them and ask to set up a meeting to walk you through it. It shows initiative and will later on help you when you come across the topic in your work.
- If your company gives you an opportunity to present a new idea, take it. I’m lucky enough to work at a company that encourages new ideas to better improve workflow processes, team structure, employee benefits, and more. I had the chance to present my idea for a volunteer paid time off program in front of the company with a couple of my colleagues and receive feedback on our proposal.
- Always ask for feedback. In college, you received feedback on everything. In the workforce, it’s not as common. Many companies have an assessment structure already in place – reviews every 6 months or year. But don’t be afraid to ask about your progress outside of those periods. I didn’t receive a full review until 9 months of employment and I wish that I could have made improvements on the skills that I was lacking in sooner.
- Don’t gossip about coworkers. It can be easy to mention to a colleague how Employee A was so rude when you first her or how Employee B’s friend was a creep at the bar on Saturday night. You never know who is close with who and all it takes is for someone to overhear your conversation. Rumors can spread fast at a company, so it’s best to not say anything or talk in a private area with a trusted friend.
- Put yourself out there during social events. More likely than not, people are welcoming and friendly. Don’t be afraid to start a conversation with someone you’ve never talked to before.
- Don’t go overboard on booze at company gatherings. The last thing you need is for that night that you took one too many shots to be all that your coworkers remember about your drinking habits.
- If you’re stressed out, grab a friend and go for a walk. I can’t tell you how amazing it is to step away from my desk and go on Dunkin Donuts runs with my friend, Megan. Five minutes to clear your head can really make a difference.
- Attend local networking/industry events. You never know who you will meet or what you might learn.
What lessons did you learn in the first year of your career?
Author: Lauren Taylar
Lauren Taylar is a digital marketer and blogger. She is a recent graduate of the State University of New York at Oswego, where she earned her bachelor’s degree in public relations.