Four Lessons I’ve Learned Away From the Classroom & Out of the Office

My time-hop this morning was one of the last pictures I ever took as an undergraduate.  I was cripplingly hungover from our senior bar crawl the night before and riddled with anxiety by the uncertainty surrounding my job prospects.  I also was just struggling to keep my dress strap up.

Currently, I am penning my ‘listicle’ debut from my office in Manhattan, across from Radio City Music Hall, at one of the top global media agencies of the year.  Wardrobe malfunctions aside, knowing that I’d have a job shortly after graduation would have assuaged many of my concerns that day and allowed me to enjoy my final days as a student.

It’s difficult to say if there’s anything I wish I had known back them.  I was dead-set on moving to New York City and working for any advertising agency that would take a chance on me. I’m confident that I would do it all the same way if I were given the chance to do so.  I have learned more about myself in the past year than I did all throughout college.  From debauchery to desk job, these are just a few empirical findings after my first year in the work-force.

  • The Venn diagram of priorities has multiplied. We were frequently told that it wasn’t feasible to balance sleep/a social life/ and passing grades in college. I call my hierarchy of needs ‘spinning plates.’ Sometimes you’ll have several in the air that will come crashing down at once.  It’s important to be in tune with your physiological needs.  I know that if I don’t get enough sleep or workout often and eat well, I come un-hinged. I’ve learned to be cognizant of this and not sacrifice my health in favor of a night out with friends.

  • You are the only one holding yourself accountable for your success. Obviously you have to ladder up to supervisors and managers at work, but ultimately my position can be replaced by any other aspiring cog in the machine. My success is no longer gauged by test scores, nor is my trajectory to success laid out in palatable semesters not to exceed 16 credit hours.  It’s liberating and terrifying but it’s time for me to become my toughest critic and hold myself to a higher standard.
  • The ‘real world’ social structure doesn’t deviate too much from college sororities. The policy and standards board is now known as Human Resources, and the gossip queen gabbing at a tailgate is just Joanne by the water-cooler.  There is no job position too senior to still be petty.  I’m certainly thankful for the lessons I learned in college about balancing difficult personalities while remaining true to yourself; they hold true in the office life today.

  • My adult life is so much more than my day job. The friends I have found and the experiences I’ve shared with them are far more fulfilling to me than my nine-to-five job.  I’ve been forced to recalibrate my success metrics.  Even though I got that job at that agency right out of college, nothing makes me happier than my close friends and family and flagging down every poodle hybrid at Thompkin’s Square Park.

Thankfully, my skin has thickened since falling on wet sheet rock my first week of work or crying over my sub-par performance review at 90 days.  Congratulations to you, Class of 2017, and take it from the girl in the blue dress; you have the rest of your life to worry about just that: the rest of your life.  Treat everyone with respect, and command the same respect for yourself. In this way, I promise you’ll find happiness in whatever you do.

Photo Credit: One, Two, Three, last picture courtesy of the author

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