I see you over there. Enjoying the sweet freedom of that make-believe adult life that is college. Outside of class and a job of some sort, you do what you want, when you want. And believe me, I’m not here to burst your bubble of bliss. But the future is inevitable and you won’t be in school forever (at least we hope).
It’s probably crossed your mind a few times, right? Where you would end up? Who is going to hire you? What would you achieve? How the hell are you going to pay all these bills and adult things all by yourself?
Don’t fret. Really.
Why you ask? Because a neurotic, ever-curious, copywriting genius like myself got drunk and decided the ever-important lessons I’ve learned needed to be immortalized in digital ink. And now you get to reap these sweet morsels of postgraduate wisdom.
1. Loyalty pays off. Eventually.
I’ve heard time and time again about how people my age — AKA “Millennials” — can’t, or more importantly, won’t, keep a job. At least not to the tune of years. There’s far too much to do/learn/experience in this exciting digital age to get bogged down to a single cubicle. This LinkedIn article from Adam Bryant, http://www.linkedin.com/today/post/article/20131209122642-35894743-are-millennials-too-impatient-at-work “Are Millennials Too Impatient To Work”, digs into why kids these days aren’t rooting themselves to a single ladder.
Call me weird, but that was totally my path. I’m 24 years old, and I’ve been working for the same company, on and off, since I was an angsty 16 year old. That’s an eight year-long career by the time I’m barely out of college and just learning what in the hell a 401K is. Scratch that, you don’t have to call me weird, because I’ve had plenty of friends already do that.
But that’s fine, because it all came to fruition when a kid came into my store last summer asking about a part-time job. At that point, I was a former high school “sneakerhead” sales associate turned seasoned assistant manager with a college degree in Advertising/Copywriting.
I told him repeatedly that all the positions were filled. He wasn’t having it. So I pulled up our company career page. Right there, smack dab at the top of the listings, was a posting for “Digital Copywriter.” In goes my application and surprisingly, I didn’t think much of it, even though I had seven years with the company, two years of copywriting experience, and basically ticked off all the requirements. Within two weeks, I got a call from a recruiter, got phone interviewed by my current boss, flown out to Boulder for an all-day, multi-person interview, and got offered the job.
Loyalty. It worked for me.
2. Contrary to what Biggie said, “…mo’ money [does not mean] mo’ problems.”
I get it. From the bougie tax bracket of life, you’re worried that you “could spend [your] whole life good will hunting” from gold diggers, relatives that are only nice to you because they want in on your will, and other too-much-money drama. Don’t get me wrong; I’m not here saying that money doesn’t have its evils.
But I’m not there yet. Neither are you (I’m assuming this because you clicked on a link that included “Post Grad” in it). Let me break this down for you.
Back in September of 2013, pockets of Colorado got completely rocked by a flood aptly named the “100 Year Flood.” What also got rocked was my newly moved into, basement apartment. I managed to salvage most of my belongings from the creeping water before my landlord had to basically drag me out. I was sloshing around in nearly knee deep water with lightning in the air… it wasn’t worth it.
Emergency sirens blared; a robotic, yet God-like, woman’s voice told whoever would listen that if the “dam [broke], please seek higher ground.” I curled into that all-too-comforting fetal position on my mattress on the floor with my bare essentials in an old backpack clutched in my trembling hand. There was too much fear in my chest for sleep or life flashes.
So I called my parents.
I tried to seem brave and adult-like but before I knew it, there were tears burning their way down my cheeks. My equally-terrified mother (for an entirely different reason) had to yell through the phone to get my attention.
“Jae! Stop it. Are you safe? Then there’s nothing to worry about. You’ve got us, and we’ve got money. This is nothing, honey,” she said. She’s survived the Vietnam War and consequently, the penniless move to this country via a wooden boat stuffed 200 people past capacity.
So take it from her, mo’ money mo’ problems ain’t always the case.
3. Relationships matter more than your last name, your alma mater, or your previous title.
Sure, life is probably easier if you’re a Kennedy or a Carter, if you’ve got Ivy League stamped on your resume, or you were the ultra-hip Creative Director at your last big city gig. Make no mistake that it all comes down to relationships. We are sensitive-ass creatures. There’s a reason we have the ability to be cognizant of feelings, whether others’ or our own.
Since I’ve gotten my foot in that corporate door, every successful person I’ve come across has told me that it’s not just about what you know, but who you know. Honestly, sometimes even what you know doesn’t matter. You can be taught how to work off of so-and-so platform, log your time sheets, or what QA, CRM, or PDP means.
Nobody can teach you how to bond with your coworkers over expensed drinks. When is the right time to make a (possibly crude) joke with your boss? Or, what is truly necessary of you so that your office knows you’re not some slacker bum that just shows up for a paycheck?
4. Your friends are yours to make or break.
You graduated. Congrats! Now there’s no obligation to see anybody you don’t want to. What sweet freedom from the basics. But that also means you’ve got to actually put in effort to hang out with those you care about. I know. What kind of nonsense is that?
Listen, all of my best friends in this life are located on the East Coast. That is a minimum of four states, 1600 miles, and about five Red Bulls away. Even though they will always be my ride-or-dies, and vice versa, it requires much more effort now for us to kick it and keep each other in the know. And that’s on me/you/them. It’s nobody’s responsibility to hold your hand when it comes to holding your friendships together.
5. Rules are made to be broken.
Use discretion on this, but when every other intern/entry-level baby/struggle hustler is trying to climb the same ladder as you, then you’ve got to differentiate yourself. This may mean speaking up when it’s not expected of you, offering to do something outside your duties (notice that I say outside and not below because that’s expected of you, sorry), or just utterly annihilating some office/workplace paradigm. We are the so-called overprivileged, underworked generation that grew up in the digital age of “gimme now,” right? So let’s break some shit and put it back together in our own way.
6. Always carry a writing utensil, hair band, and your business cards.
Get on Bear Grylls’ level and always prepare for the unknown. I bet you my bonus that at least once a week, you will hear, “Who has a pen/pencil?” and “Does anybody have an extra hair tie?” Will you be the office baby extraordinaire that will swoop in to save the day, or will you be another ill-prepared newbie coming up with sad, empty hands?
Even outside of work, items one and two are in themselves icebreakers. After that, as long as you’re not completely incompetent or an over-the-top ass kisser, then item three can easily be worked into the conversation. Boom, potential relationships and networking made easy.
7. Being nice is not mutually exclusive to adding value.
Being nice is a bare minimum and so is adding value, whether it’s in the workplace, relationships, or life. This Alec Baldwin scene (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8kZg_ALxEz0) via this amazingly crass yet concise http://www.cracked.com/blog/6-harsh-truths-that-will-make-you-better-person/ Cracked post hammers home this point better than I ever could. Why bother being nice then? Because people would rather work with a brilliant nice person than a genius asshole. Trust me, I’m a brilliant nice person.