Nine months ago, I gingerly stepped into The Digital Ring’s office on the first day of my “real world” job. I had returned from a two-month internship in Thailand just four days prior, but any remaining jetlag was quickly chased off by the bright orange… everything.
That morning I woke up in the most “college” house you can imagine. My roommates were still asleep, savoring the last days of summer before their senior year, and I didn’t feel very much like an adult. I was barely 21 years old, I still hadn’t framed my diploma, and I ate a free donut for breakfast. There was no way I was ready for this career thing.
But before I could panic, I was swept up in a rush of friendly introductions and excitement. I came to love that fast-paced, hit-the-ground-running mentality that drives every day at TDR.
These are my biggest takeaways after getting lucky enough to have this as my first job straight out of college. I couldn’t be happier that I skipped that whole delivering coffee stage — and I can’t believe how much I’ve learned.
Culture is everything.
I remember trying to evaluate the culture of various companies during my job search. Everyone claimed to foster a great team environment, but I felt like there was no way to know for sure. It was refreshing to see TDR’s true colors through the laughter and honesty in all our communication.
It’s so much easier to produce quality work when you feel supported and empowered in your position. In a short time, I went from working “for a paycheck” to working for people I cared about and admired. As much as I love writing blogs and dirtying my hands in WordPress, one of the best motivators is simply wanting to do right by the bosses and coworkers who are there for me.
You can find a lot of jobs out there with similar duties, but the people matter so much more than the work itself.
Everything connects. No, really.
In the marketing world, and in life, nothing exists in a vacuum. Every single day I find myself pulling insight from seemingly unrelated experiences and using it to be a better worker.
I see this play out both in the details and at a high level: it’s as simple as the way knowing one email platform makes it easier to learn another, and as complex as how tough personal experiences grow resilience.
I never really thought that the late nights I spent talking with friends in college would improve my professional life, but every abstract conversation made me a better communicator. The silly Photoshop work I did for dogs on Instagram prepared me to edit images for clients. And the lessons I’ve learned in interacting with coworkers have made me a kinder person outside of the office, too.
When you bring your whole self to work, you do a better job — and that goes beyond what happens from 9-5.
The most important skill is an ability to learn.
An entry-level marketing job demands concrete skills: position descriptions are littered with acronyms and buzzwords and specific platforms. While technical faculties are important, nothing matters more than simply being able to learn.
Anyone can be taught how to boost posts on Facebook or upload blogs to WordPress or draft emails in a front-end editor. What’s harder to teach, and more important to have? “Soft skills” like humility, drive, and openness.
It’s okay if you aren’t familiar with a specific platform or method — marketing best practices fluctuate anyway, and the big business hotshots aren’t lying when they say the only constant is change. What really counts is whether or not you can organize and apply new information.
Be kind to yourself.
I know you’ve heard this a million times, but hear me out when I say that no one is perfect. Your boss has bad days. Your coworkers have bad days. Your clients have bad days. And you are allowed to have bad days too.
Starting a new job is scary, especially when you’re fresh out of college with bright eyes and not a clue what to expect. Mistakes are inevitable, but if you frame them in the right way, they’ll only help your career along.
Work is a place to get s*** done, but it should also be a place to grow and have fun. Those things aren’t mutually exclusive! Take regular brain breaks, be unapologetically you, and show yourself grace when things don’t go as planned. And I’ll be completely honest: if you don’t feel like you can do those things in your current position, it’s time to really think about what environment you want to be in for 40+ hours a week.