5 Things I Wish I Knew Before I Started Working

I think I am one of the few people at my stage of life who is kind of in love with her job (and I'm not just saying that because my boss is my friend on Facebook-- Hi Kerrie!). I think being in your early-20's is borderline terrifying what with becoming a full-fledged adult, being on your own, remembering to pay bills, dating (or not), and just figuring out what in the hell you are supposed to be doing. But a job? A job that is supposed to set the foundation for basically the rest of your life? That's panic inducing. Like Black Swan panic (where she grows the feather bristles, not when she kills her alter-ego). 

However, I look back on my nearly 1.5 years at my job and I feel as cool as a cucumber. Don't get me wrong, sometimes I wake up in the middle of the night furiously checking my email to make sure that my calendar is synced up with meetings three months from now. Three. Months. From. Now (I'm type triple-A, actually, so). 

So, here are five things I wish someone had sat me down and told me before I stepped foot into the office because knowledge is power, guys:

  1. If you don't believe in yourself, nobody else will either. And I mean that in the sweetest way possible. First day jitters are one thing, but telling yourself you aren't qualified enough or simply can't perform the task at hand is a lie. You were hired for a reason. Now prove them right.
  2. Prioritize your worrying. I love editing articles. It's one of my favorite things to do. So when I get a piece emailed back with a bunch of red lines and ??? everywhere, I sink. I also love to network and meet people within our industry. When I mess up an introduction or have a bad case of foot-in-mouth? That's a bit bigger than a missed comma. When you make a small or big mistake, own it. But if it's going to drive you out of your mind, prioritize them. That comma? Bye. That messed up introduction? Apologize and rebound. Prioritize your worrying, because trust me, you'll worry a lot. 
  3. Learn to set aside your personal feelings. I'm an emotional creature. I like to be liked and I get nervous when I can tell someone doesn't care for me personally. But stressing about if your coworker is texting your other coworker about you will eat you alive. You were hired based on your professional personality, not on your weekend plans or how your smile makes people feel. If you can understand that, then you're way ahead of your other fellow emotional creatures.
  4. Never stop learning.  Know-it-all's, heed this warning. Just because you graduated top of your class at Who Cares University and were president of Kappa This Doesn't Apply to Life, does not mean you are the cream of the employment crop, too. A lot of career development happens by failing and then asking for help. When I first started working in the interior design industry, I thought beadboard cabinets were literal beads glued to boards. Now I assist in 99% of press publications that flow out of our office. Check your ego at the door, ask for help, and do your homework. Learning doesn't stop after you grab your degree.
  5. Be sweet. I learned this one from my boss. No matter how frustrating a conference call is, how irritating your project partners can be, how crappy your day has been, don't stop being sweet. Be nice. Know that you will definitely catch more flies with honey, and those flies have the ability to increase your sales and the likelihood of a nice little promotion. Also good to note: Forcing yourself to shake it off and get through the rest of your day really does make a difference.

Bonus tips:

  • Make friends with your Starbucks baristas. They can be the difference between a steamy hot Americano in your hand and a missed morning appointment because of a missing drink order.
  • Keep your desk organized. You'll look and feel more professional.
  • Keep a snack (or two) close by. 3pm is a cruel hour and requires a granola bar.

What are some things you wish YOU knew before starting your first big girl (or boy) job?