After learning that blogging at Airfoil was a hot trend, I knew I wanted to start contributing. I opened up a new Word doc in an attempt to start writing my first post. Immediately, I started sweating dreading the thought of my new fellow ‘foilers and other blog readers not only reading what I produce from various combinations of 26 letters, but judging my diction and grammar, too. Let’s be honest, us grammar competent PR people inevitably half read and half edit at all times. These thoughts were treading through my mind while the blank page on my monitor simultaneously seemed to be getting bigger and whiter.
Since I didn’t exactly know what to write about, I brainstormed. I thought about recounting the details of the wonderful and intelligent people I have met here – but ultimately ruled that out; there are too many people to write about. On the other hand, I could highlight the new technology, policies and clients I’ve learned about – but that didn’t seem exceptionally groundbreaking given that any new employee has to learn these sorts of things (side note: the technology we use and clients we service are honestly exciting). Adhering to the old adage of “write what you know” I decided to explore some of the topics that every recently graduated professional, no matter the industry, has to face. Ready, set, go!
The business of being business causal
I recently read an article in Forbes that entirely explains my daily dilemma: how do I know what the dickens to wear to work? Yes, we’re a business casual workplace - but if I emphasize the “business” part of business casual, I look like a teen girl playing dress up in her fashionable mother’s work clothes. Conversely, if I highlight the casual, how do I maintain a distinction between work clothes and everyday clothes? I thought about tons of different outfit combinations and realized I was getting desperate when I started to seriously consider wearing my egg costume to work (side note: apparently Gwen Stefani owns it, too).
Ultimately, I would advise recent grads to watch what everyone else at your workplace is wearing. For the first week I dressed to the nines daily to make a good first impression. After that, I modeled myself after other people’s wardrobes that I liked, while keeping in mind my own personal style. Now, I try to strike a balance between business and casual.
The art of walking in and out
Maybe this makes me sound too “recent grad,” but besides the coffee maker (it’s a Keurig!) and endless snack supply (seriously mind-blowing), what else astonishes me on a daily basis is that I come to work and no one calls out my name from the attendance list, I don’t swipe my student ID and I don’t find my manager to make sure someone knows I’m “P” (present). When I leave for the night, I merely walk out. It may sound trivial, but it’s not.
The bigger picture is that it means my employer expects and trusts that I am putting in my time. It means Airfoil isn’t my babysitter and isn’t trying to hold my hand. On my end, it means that I’m accountable for myself. Skipping a day of work is obviously not like skipping class (not that I ever did that…). Honestly, I enjoy being held accountable for myself and the hours I work. I am officially living in “the real world,” so I should act like it.
Lessons from the infamous 1:1s
As a “newb,” I talked with several ‘foilers with different titles and different experiences during “get to know” you meetings we call a “1:1.” I’d like to share some of my favorite tips that all recent grads might find valuable.
- From Megan S: Pitch from your desk. Pitch fearlessly. Be flexible. Think of all possible options before asking a question (not that asking questions is a bad thing, she notes). Allowing people to hear and learn from you and vice versa creates a culture of education, no matter what industry you’re in.
- From Sadie K: When put on a new team, it’s important to ask questions so you know your role, how often to report back and client goals and expectations. Doing so gets expectations on the table and helps you find your pace and helps with time management. Make connections with your managers. They want to hear from you.
- From Mary B: Don’t get distracted by your computer or phone during meetings; it’s easy to tell when someone’s not paying attention. Always listen, always be present. Your coworkers and your clients deserve your attention and respect.
Well there you have it— my insights into the professional, “real” world after college. What advice would you add to this list? What was the biggest change you experienced in your first professional role after school?
-- Jamie Favazza is an intern at Airfoil Public Relations, a high tech PR agency with offices in Silicon Valley and Detroit.