May 21, 2008  •  In Career, Personal

5 Pieces of Advice for Recent Graduates, Part 3

Part 1: The world doesn’t owe you anything.
Part 2: It’s never too late.

3. Make the best of it.

I hated my first job.

In hindsight, it wasn’t a total waste. I gained valuable experience, learned the importance of office politics, and the salary wasn’t bad at all for an entry-level position.

However, I couldn’t ignore the fact that I was miserable. I hated the numbers-driven strategy and the mad scramble at the end of every fiscal quarter to meet the quota. I hated the work I did, which was providing administrative and strategic support for my sales group.

I knew I was capable of more.

During my one-year tenure at this company, I befriended a man in the marketing department. To be more specific, he was a designer within the marketing department. And the more I talked to him and learned what he did, the more I knew this was what I wanted to do.

In a ballsy move very uncharacteristic of my usually shy self, I arranged a meeting with the VP of Marketing and discussed my future with the company. “This is what I want in my career and I know I can do this,” I emphasized. “I want to work for you.”

Unfortunately, her staff was full and she didn’t have room in her budget for a new employee. However, she offered to talk to my supervisor on my behalf.

A week later, the VP of my department called me into her office.

To be honest I was scared shitless. I had never expressed interest in moving to another department. Would she think I was going behind her back?

This wasn’t the case at all. She told me that she believed I was a great worker and praised me on the many achievements I had accomplished in the past year. She didn’t want to lose me and so offered additional projects which were more in line with my interests.

I gladly accepted the new responsibilities that she had created specifically for me, but I also knew deep inside that I didn’t want to stay with this company. In addition, I wanted to move back home to New York (I was in Baltimore at the time).

What I really wanted to do was design work and/or marketing but I realized I had a disadvantage for not having had any formal training.

So in my spare time, I taught myself CSS, JavaScript, and PHP. I delved deeper into Flash and the Adobe Creative Suite applications.

I never never taken any marketing classes at school so I bought some books and read up on the subject.

I took on freelance work whenever possible, even volunteering my services for free, just for the experience and to build my portfolio.

A few months later, when the lease on my apartment was about to end, I decided to move back up to NY and started looking for work in my newly desired field.

And I got it.

Currently, I work in marketing and have a wide variety of responsibilities which keep me mentally and creatively stimulated. I write copy and design the material on which it is displayed (letterheads, envelopes, pamphlets, brochures, posters, websites, gifts, etc). I organize mass mailing campaigns that reach almost 100,000 people all over the world. I design ads that are displayed in some of the most respected journals and magazines in the industry.

But most importantly, I work in a field I love (IT) and I no longer dread going to work every morning.

I feel that anyone who feels they are stuck in an unfavorable position can learn from this experience.

First, I decided what I wanted. (By talking to the man who worked in the marketing department and finding out all I could about the position and the field)

Then I went for it. (By talking to the VP of Marketing)

And since I didn’t get exactly what I wanted, I decided to turn the odds in my favor. (By accepting additional projects, training myself, taking on extra work in my spare time)

I retried, and I got it.

It may seem cliché, but when life doesn’t turn out the way you want, you have to make the best of it by taking advantage of every little opportunity.

Stay tuned for the next installment in this series: 4. Be ballsy.

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One Response to “5 Pieces of Advice for Recent Graduates, Part 3”

  1. Burkhard says:

    Oh how i know that feeling! slonwig down is counter-cultural so we end up not only fighting our own desires to be involved, productive and useful in our own eyes but also fighting society’s current. The classic salmon fighting against the power of the rushing river until we reach the top of our waterfall and our destination.

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