In Part 1 from A Cautionary Tale from an Elder Gen-Y’er, I gave you the first five of my Top 10 things to look out for in the real world. I guess my goal was to tell the story from a place you (the millennial generation) could understand. Why? Because I wish someone had alerted me to what was REALLY out there. I do. I could go ahead and tell you they were all “learning experiences” and most of them were. But a good majority of them were big headaches. I.E. My logo getting stolen, working for free as a MASTER’S educated graduate and a few of the next five that I will share with you:
6.) Learn when to say no
After college the world is yours. Yes it is. Many start to get involved in a lot of activities like professional organizations, book clubs, volunteer work, etc. Learn when to say no. If you have the time and the energy, do it, enjoy it. But when you begin to not enjoy it, evaluate it. Sort of like an investment. What is my ROI on volunteering my time (and possibly $$) for this organization? This is the part when you need to ask yourself…what am I getting out of this? Are you meeting great people who you feel are helping to further your career or are you the person that a majority of responsibilities are dumped upon because you’re the one without kids. Seriously. Think about it. This is when you need to focus on the YOU and just say no.
7.) Decide quickly whether you want to drink the agency kool-aid
Again for the marketing/PR and communications majors out there, you’ll either decide or the decision will be made for you on whether you want to ride the agency train. Working in agencies are fun, interactive, UBER-creative places to work. If you are lucky and can work with amazing brands, you will see your work come to fruition. And when that happens, you’ll know whether or not agency-life is for you. Agencies can also be a breeding ground for some of the worst office politics you’ll ever find. Lots of back-stabbing ladder-climbers who unfortunately you cannot trust. Look it happens. Just be prepared to avoid it and be YOU. Get in there, search out someone you can see as a mentor and who is willing to mentor you as well.
And if it isn’t for you. Have no fear. Maybe you would rather work client-side. There are PLENTY of organizations out there. Healthcare, non-profit, corporate, higher education…you name it…the possibilities are endless.
8.) Be you. Only you. Unless you are a bad person.
Truly I mean that. We’re at a point in our lives and careers where we have free reign to find ourselves. That whole “do the screwing up before your 30″ notion is kind of true. You have a lot you can get away with at 25 than you can at 45. So find that YOU that you love. Don’t be anything for anyone else. Believe me I’ve tried.
You’ll think (and possibly find) that employers will hire you and expect you to change. Or maybe they hired a facade of someone they thought you were and you weren’t. Look it…if an employer doesn’t like YOU, then its honestly not meant to be. The real thrill of finding a great job and loving your career is the opportunity to not change for anyone and be successful in your own way.
Now. If you are a bad person. And there are truly a lot of you out there, I know, I’ve met you. Realize now that in all honesty karma is a bitch. Yes. I said it. A bitch. You may be riding the highs of success, maybe making tons of money, living in your perfect life…but soon the more people you stomp on and the more people you degrade will lead you to an even worse karma. Now I know that’s not you. You know its not you. So change. Be a better YOU. Someone who deep down…you really like. And then when you find that person, call me, and maybe, just maybe, I’ll buy you a beer.
9.) Don’t let anyone take advantage of your passion
This relates back to my #4 in my Top 10 list of things to look out for. Many people will look to you because you are: young, cheap and have tons of energy. It may be a small business looking for marketing help, a small agency wanting to “partner” with you or another professional looking for you to work alongside them on a project. I’m sure by now you have a pretty good idea of what you have a passion for. (And DO NOT freak out if you don’t, believe me, you will) Research everything you get into. Like I’ve said before, if you have not done an internship in college this is where you should work for free. Those instances always pay off. I tell you this because if you do go through something where you know you were taken advantage of, it sucks. It just plain sucks. So don’t let it happen. Put your time and energy into YOU! Your brand, your web site, your blog, your networking.
10.) Be open to fail…A LOT
I leave you with the biggest contradiction of all this advice. Be open to fail. I mean it. How many quotes out there do you have taped to your cubicle/desk/forehead that explain failure being imperative to your success? It’s true. In all that I have been through, accomplished, been pissed off about and almost quit this profession alone…I’ve had that much to be happy and feel successful about. If you don’t take even some of the risks I’ve warned you about, you’ll regret it. And I guarantee that. We’re not perfect, nor should we continually try to be. I know. I’ve tried. Be confident in what you do, don’t let anyone tell you that you are not good enough and continually strive to be the best YOU!