Since graduating university, it has taken me 14 interviews, 3 jobs and exactly 1 year to find the right one. I don’t miss the interview process, the rejection, or even the waiting game, but going through all of that has brought me to where I am now, and into a job that has already in a such short space of time taught me so much. A few months in, and these are the lessons I’ve learnt that I wish I knew sooner, as they would have made my transition from university to a career much smoother.
1. Jobs don’t come easy
This to me is a fundamental lesson to learn, and when you’re a student you’re aware of the challenges you may eventually face when you graduate. You blink and realise you’ve fully entered adulthood when you’ve had to have the ‘Going out? But we have food at home’ chat with yourself. Nothing can really prepare you for this next season, but if you’re anything like me, you’ll be guilty of having the ‘it probably doesn’t apply to me’ kind of mindset with jobs.
I handed in my last assignment at university in May 2017, and the same week I got my first graduate job, then 3 months in I was made redundant. I thought I’d gone through the worst of it, so after searching between London and Bournemouth for 2 months I was finally offered a job at a small marketing agency. Unfortunately, a few months later I found myself looking again.
After all that, and exactly a year after leaving university, I was offered a position as Account Executive at Bright Blue Day. Having been here for a few months now and being able to reflect on my journey, I am honestly so thankful. It really isn’t as easy to graduate university and face new challenges, but it’s so worth it in the end because the experience I gained in the process made me more qualified, toughened me up and prepared me to get this job. Since the moment I walked in, this agency has exceeding every expectation I had; it has invested in me, challenged me, and valued me. The reality is, jobs really don’t come easy, at least the good ones don’t, so it’s a great lesson to learn to be prepared to face the challenges that come when finding the right job.
2. Forget multitasking
Stepping into the agency world means you will, at times, feel overwhelmed, face pressures, and have pressing deadlines. One of the hardest lessons I’ve had to learn is how to get shit done; how to prioritise, how to complete all my tasks and how to take initiative. I couldn’t figure out why I wasn’t quite getting it right, why I could have the best intentions to get something done but still forget to send the client ‘that’ email, forget to take notes or even forget to fully proof check the work I was sending over.
The truth is, we can’t do it all. We can’t reply to our emails, finish a presentation and raise an invoice all while in a client meeting. We’re only human and we have our limits, I’ve found the best way to do it all, is to not do it all at once. Be focused on one thing at a time, put your energy into completing that one task and then move on to the next thing. When your attention is put on one thing, you will find you’re more productive, you make less mistakes and the work you’re producing is a higher standard.
3. It’s a team game
The amazing thing about Bright Blue Day is that you really are part of a team, working relentlessly together to make shit happen. You all have a heart for this amazing and versatile industry and you all give yourselves to whatever that looks like, whether it’s making 50 coffees a day, raising 1,000 invoices or sharing each other’s work load. One thing that has always struck me about this place is how invested my team is, and how I never have to question their support.
It’s the same in life as it is in work – you’re never really going to stop learning, but the best time to learn is when you’re only just getting started. As a graduate, you’re not supposed to know it all and you’re actually there to support and learn. So, learn as much as you can and soak in as much wisdom from the ones that have been doing this for years, make your mistakes early, and don’t try to prove yourself by taking on harder challenges alone. You’re all in it together, no matter what campaign, client or project you’re working on, you are all on the same team.
4. Gratitude goes a long way
This one is such an important and simple life lesson as well as one to take into your career – just say thank you. Thank the creative for staying late to finish the work that your client is pressing you for, thank your boss for taking the time to walk you through the process for the fifth time that week, and thank your colleague for making you that coffee you were about to make yourself.
If you were only known for one thing in the office, let it be the grateful one; create a culture of gratitude within your workplace, because when we show gratitude towards one another, even when you feel overwhelmed and pressured, you’re showing appreciation, and when someone feels appreciated they will want to help and make the time for you.
5. You have an impact
This lesson came to me one day on a busy Friday afternoon when I had 101 things to do, it was 4pm and it suddenly dawned on me that I still had to do our weekly internal newsletter. I actually really enjoy finding out about what projects are going on and spending time putting it together,but on this particular day I was running out of time to fit it in. Then a colleague came to me and asked what I was planning for this week’s newsletter, and the thought that this newsletter had more than one reader blew my mind. It never occurred to me that my colleagues expected the newsletter, let alone were excited to read it every Friday afternoon. All I saw was a small task on my long list, but actually I’d realised how important it was, and that I was impacting the people I worked with by putting a smile on their face after a long and busy week.
So, whether you’re making a cup of tea for a colleague, raising job numbers or doing that small internal job that you leave till the last minute, remind yourself that it’s significant and through it you are impacting the people around you. In fact, take every job you’re assigned and make the most of it, because those tasks do lead to better things, more responsibility and more chances to impact others.
Agency life is as crazy as it sounds, but it’s also one heck of a place to be. You will learn some of the best life lessons that will help prepare you for this fast-paced, disruptive and crazy world.