So apart from a freak sunny day at the weekend, we can safely say that summer is now over. The leaves are falling off the trees, jumpers are coming out the wardrobes and the “X amount of Fridays left til Christmas” tweets are coming out.
For me, the close of summer came with the completion of a work campaign that I have been working on for the last three months. All that work led to one night – which fortunately worked out successfully.
Along with it came my Facebook memories notifications. And I was reminded of how I felt in my first full-time job fresh out of uni.
I worked for the Students’ Union and two years ago I coordinated the entire Freshers’ Week/season. I say coordinated because obviously a lot of people were involved in helping me. But the way that the organisation operated meant it was my head on the guillotine if anything went wrong.
While that Freshers’ was one of the most successful ones of all – not my words I swear! – looking back on a time-lapse I took from it, I was slightly alarmed by the feelings that were coming up from it. And I got to reflecting a little, and then I put out a post to you, dear readers, as to whether you wanted a lil career advice from lil ol’ me. Which you did!
So here goes.
- Follow your passion, not your CV. I was very active outside of my degree and so from there I thought that I was always destined for work in education. Wrong! Or, I had studied languages for four years at degree level, so I must be destined for being a teacher, translator or tourist guide, right? Wrong again! I fell into blogging and YouTube because I saw a gap in the – very small university department – market. From there, I accidentally built a portfolio in blogging/social media/marketing/communication strategy, because I followed my joy. When you are following your joy, your life becomes joyful.
- There is no one straight path to any career, and it is ok to start at the bottom. Everyone does – or 9 out of 10 people do anyway. I remember thinking that because I had done a lot of extracurricular activities, I would have a top position straightaway and not need to work the small menial jobs. Except that didn’t quite happen. Sure, I left uni and went straight in as a director and trustee of a £7 million turnover organisation. But I had a lot of help. I’ve been a manager of something in more places than your typical 24 year old might have. However I’ve missed some hard skills that I would have built on had I started at the metaphorical bottom. While I have a lot of managerial experience for my age – heck I even used to be left alone on the shop floor at 16 – it does mean I have had to rely on others with the technical stuff. Which doesn’t always look great.
Be willing to put in the hours and make it about the journey, not the destination. This is it. This is life and living! You might as well enjoy every step, and trust me, you don’t know as much as you think you do. Soz.
- Seek help and create (reasonable) boundaries. The reason my Facebook memories of Freshers’ alarmed me was because of the worry and discomfort that rose in me. The same worry and discomfort I felt two years ago. I have had three full on panic attacks in my life, and I had my second at the end of that Freshers’ Week. The mental stress and pressure became physical and I broke down in the middle of a nightclub.
What’s worse is barely anyone knew about it. My housemates knew but I told no one at work. I felt like I had to bare the pressure. Never EVER do this, dear reader! For sake of length, I’ll finish my insight here. But communication is SO crucial to your success I cannot emphasise this enough! You have a problem, talk to someone about it. Even just asking someone if you can vent to them for five minutes is fine – but do it in a private space so it doesn’t look like you’re an office complainer. (There’s a difference…).
So there it is. Everyone’s journey is different, and that’s completely ok!
What have you learned most from your career so far?