I'm not saying with this that universities have no fault on how unprepared the students leave their facilities. I personaly don't agree with the teaching methods and a lot of the content we have to learn in order to be "good students". Why? Because in real life 60% of that content is totally useless! After finishing my degree I felt lost for a while but after 1 year of working I collected a few things I want to share with you so maybe you won't feel as confused as me when I entered the business market.
So here it is the list of things I wished I knew before I started working.
Things I learned after finishing college:
- Having a degree gives you a different social status and you will be treated differently if you have one. It's something I never noticed until I started working. I was an intern in a conpany where nobody had a degree so because of that, my colleagues felt that I could do anything for them and I needed no tutoring. They assumed that due to my education, which was higher then theirs, I should know how to do what I was asked without any help or support. For someone who only studied her whole life, that was obviously hard to deal with.
- Being good at what you do can make your boss extremly happy and proud to have you on his team, but it can also make your colleagues really envious about your skills. Even though I was the youngest on the company, there were people old enough to be my parents trying to deceive my boss into believing I had these huge flaws and that I needed to be supervised more. In these type of cases I advise you to confront your mates (don't let them think you don't have a voice just because you're the youngest) in the most diplomatic way you can. Also, let your work talk by itself and always do your best. No rumors or trash talk can fight against the results of a good performance.
- Don't let people take credit for your work! If this was something common to happen to you in college/high school, it will keep happening in your workplace unless you change your ways. Once one intern on my first job claimed some ideas to be hers on a business meeting, when it was me who suggested everything while I was taking care of other tasks. I promised myself I would never let people take advantage of my work, so I decided to talk to my supervisor after the meeting and told her: "I didn't want to disturb the meeting or cause conflict, so I waited to tell you that I didn't appreciate how my colleage talked about my ideas like they were hers. She gave the impression she came up with a lot of work that she had no idea how to do without my suggestions." My supervisor was happy to see me standing up for myself, since I was so quiet at the office, and she even advised me to not take "bullshit like that anymore and for the next time, to stand up in the meeting!"
- Another thing I used to struggle with was calling someone I didn't know on the phone. Even simple things like making a doctor appointment by the phone it would give me such anxiety that my heart would start racing just about thinking I had no other option besides making a call. Since I started working, taking and making calls became part of my daily tasks. I figured once you do something every single day, you learn how to conquer it.
- Don't make enemies, make contacts. You can start this at college because you might just bump into old classmates during your career. It's important to always keep a good relationship with the people you meet through your life because you never know when they might become your boss/colleague/client. So always be polite!
- When I was at college, I was used to have this sensation of relief every time an exam/project/test was done. That feeling is gone once you start working. Working is like a never ending task, every day you have new problems to solve and you never really feel that sensation of relief again (maybe except when you get vacations, but that happens a lot less often than you're used to in college).
- The points before lead me to, probably, the most important one: do what you love. You're going to spend so many hours of your life working so the least you can do in order to be happy is to make sure you pick something you will enjoy doing. It might not be for the rest of your life, but at least for the period you are working, make sure you enjoy it as much as possible.
- When applying for jobs, don't just send your curriculum to every single job add. I know some people can't really afford to make this choice, but if you had the opportunity to get a degree on something you love, focus on that and don't waste time working at places that won't make you happy. I've watched so many of my classmates getting stuck on call centers for no reason at all and then they would complain about the crappy pay check they would get plus the lack of portfolio on the area they actually wanted to work. I always wondered, "why did you decide to waste time on that job in the first place"? Unless you're financially struggling, don't be afraid to take the time to find the right job for you.
- Know your strengths. This is something I learned from Jenn Im in her youtube video about life after college. After watching it, I created this simple rule: at every job interview you go to, always make sure you communicate, at least, 3 of your best qualities as a person and employee. Also, never start by saying " I'm terrible at this but i'm good at..." because the interviewer will focus more on the first things you point out, so always talk about your qualities first and only point out your flaws if you're asked.
- Also related to the previous points, even the most perfect job in the world will make you struggle every now and then. So even if you love what you do, expect some bad days.
- Creativity is more important than ever! Every single day is a challange and if you face it in a creative way, you'll always have fun solving daily problems.
- I wished someone had taugh me about taxes. I felt so confused about this topic when I started working and sometimes I still am. I'm lucky enough to have lawyers in my family who help me understand a little about taxes and finances, but if that's not your case, hire a professional. Also there's usually free phone lines you can call regarding payments and taxes related to your State. Specially if you're becoming a freelancer, there's a bunch of burocracy you need to take care of before starting your own business. Keep that in mind before you start charging clients.
- Wherever you are, whatever you do, put all your heart and soul in it. Make sure to add something unique and refreshing to your work, so if/when you leave, everyone will miss the way you helped the business grow. You might find yourself going back to a previous colleague or boss to ask for advice/help or even a job opportunity. They will remember your work, for good or bad reasons, so always do your best!
- Value yourself. When I started working, I heard a lot of "maybe you should keep this job, you know, there's worse than this". Just, no! I know what I want and I won't rest until I get to be in the place I want to be. I will hustle and I will fight to have the job I think I deserve in order to get the life and confort I also ambitionate. Most importantly, don't be afraid to dream, don't be afraid of the unknown because if you don't try different things you might never find your real passion.