This past Monday I had the wonderful opportunity to speak on a panel at the College Media Advisers conference in NYC with three extremely talented young professionals all five years or less out of college. Our panel was called “Young Professionals: An Interactive Reflection” (aren’t panel names always the best?) where we offered advice and told the stories of how we started our careers.
I felt a little out of place since I just graduated a few months ago, but I did have a few answers to questions that I surprised myself with. It made me really start thinking about everything I have learned in the short 89 days since I graduated. This is for everyone still in school and dealing with the same scary, unanswered questions that I had in December. By no means am I an expert. But have no fear! The real world is a magical place with no homework and lots of free time (well, more than I ever had).
1. From graduation to the real world: Becoming a freshman… again
When I went to school I started at the very bottom – no experience and lots of uncertainty. But through the years I grew and worked my way up the ladder. Then after graduation day, I fell right back down to the bottom. But it’s a good thing! Now I have more to learn than ever. Learning is exciting.
2. Learn 10,000,000 times more than you think you need to know
Especially going into the journalism field today, it is vital to be well versed in several areas and not just completely focused on one. I never wanted to have anything to do with the web when I was in school. I loved print. Being able to hold and flip through what I created. But clearly I have terrible foresight because now I wish I would have taken more time to learn about it. I’m very thankful I got the chance to learn about iPad design and also experience infographic design – but the web is something I missed out on. But there’s hope! There’s no reason to not start teaching myself now. Sure it would have been a lot easier to learn in school, but I can always be teaching myself. Learning never stops – and it shouldn’t.
3. Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there and try new things
In school it’s easier to try new things because if you fail at them it’s most likely just one project grade or something in student media that will be forgotten the next day. But in the real world – it becomes a lot more intense. True life: my job is really scary. Most days I feel like I know nothing and am trying to do everything I can to do my best. I ask lots of annoying questions, try things that I know might not work out and volunteer to work on projects I really don’t know anything about. But without putting yourself out there, you may never learn something new that you love or are really good at. Everyone fails. That’s how we learn to do what’s right. I am really young and feel really intimidated by all the people around me that have been working in the field for a long time. But they are all so nice and so willing to help me that it becomes exciting to take on new challenges that I know I have to do well on. The real world is scary, that’s not a lie. But learning to put yourself out there will give you more confidence and a place to start building your career.