I know it might not seem like long to most, but I’ve been working in “Corporate America” for the past four years. I joined an industry that I never would have considered years ago and I’m truly enjoying myself. I’m the youngest person in my office (and I have been my entire time working there), so I know my few years pale in comparison to the decades some of my co-workers have logged in, but I have learned a few things over the last four years.
Give your best and then some – Whether it’s volunteering to help out with special projects work getting to the office at 7AM even when no one else gets in at 8AM, give more. It goes a long way and people will be more inclined to give you that extra hour for a lunch date or an extra day of vacation.
Speak up in meetings – Speak up period. Don’t let your lack of years on this earth or in the industry you’re in stop you from sharing your thoughts and ideas. Be respectful, of course, but don’t be afraid to speak up and share ideas that might streamline things or improve things in your office and the industry.
Keep a clean area – Keeps you focused and it’s aesthetically pleasing in an open office environment like the one I have at work.
Network, network, network! – Gone are the days where people work for a company for 30+ years. Nowadays people are switching companies and roles (hopefully promotions) every few years, and often times it’s encouraged. One thing I learned from undergrad (more specifically from a Greek organization I’m a member of) is that it’s important to foster and maintain relationships. Whether it’s with a contractor, tenant, or whoever. You never know when you’ll need someone and you never want to burn bridges. Don’t ever burn bridges (ie: quitting without notice) because you never know if you’ll need that bridge later on in your career.
You don’t have to be friends to be friendly – It’s okay if you’re not best friends with your co-workers. In fact, I work with some people I wouldn’t associate with outside of the office, but I don’t let my disdain for them affect our work. It’s perfectly acceptable to have a relationship that solely work-related. You don’t have to ask about their weekends, holidays, family life, any of that. Just make sure that your work is done and done well and your superiors are pleased.
To-Do Lists will become your best friends – Whether it’s written, in Outlook or in OneNote don’t rely on your memory. Even those with the best memories need a little assistance every now and then. I actually rely on written and digital notes, OneNote is one of my best friends.
Don’t apologize…unless you actually do something wrong – Often times as women, especially young women we apologize unnecessarily. Don’t do that. Don’t apologize for doing your job, whether that’s getting a proposal revised, marketing material expedited or asking a vendor to come out for an environmental fair.
Don’t get comfortable – This goes for you and your superiors. Don’t think that you can’t be replaced and don’t allow your superiors think that you’ll be around forever (unless that’s something you want). Do your job and do it well, but don’t get comfortable.
Be inquisitive, but not nosey – I know that those sound like the same thing, but they’re not. Be inquisitive about the industry and the business, but don’t get unnecessarily tied up in people’s personal lives. It’s nice if you become friends with your co-workers, but that doesn’t always happen and be mindful of that professional line.
Have fun! – We live in a time where work-life balance is key. You no longer have to be in a traditional career (ie: doctor, lawyer, teacher, etc) to be successful. People are developing apps and convenience services and retiring at 30! Work hard, but do what makes you happy, and the success will come in due time.