I live in a world filled with artists, entrepreneurs, and people who fly by the seats of their pants. Especially as a millennial, everyone wants to be free and unbound by the restrictions of society. Understandably so. We were raised not to be conformists and corporate america is struggling to keep up with the changing culture of the country. Fortunately for me, I landed a job that I consider to be the best of both worlds. I’m super grateful because only God could have landed me a gig like this fresh out of school. Even though I can’t relate to a lot of the corporate struggles my peers face, I know what it’s like to work for someone else.
Here are a few of the most important lessons I’ve learned while working for the Man.
How to Communicate
I spend most of my day talking to people via email which is probably the least personable way to communicate with someone because it’s missing all the nonverbal cues and inflections we use to interpret a message. Learning how to communicate with people is arguably one of the most important skills you will ever learn. It’s the difference between people gladly helping you and people pretending they don’t see your requests because, well…you sound like a demeaning jerk.
I contract for a global company so I could be talking to someone in France, UK, or even Greece at any given time (give or take a few hours because…time zones), but the company has a strong core value of working as a unified team. That means everybody is important. That also means everybody is responsible. Everyone gets rewarded when goals are met, and everyone gets blamed when they’re not. I’ve seen a PM utterly destroy a project and not take a single iota of blame for it. Why? No one asked whose fault it was. In fact, the only question asked was, “how soon can we get it fixed?” That’s the way it should be. “That’s not my job” attitudes are the quickest ways to knock down your ladder to success. Pointing the finger is petty. Solving the problem is boss.
In this industry there are a million things that can go wrong. This means keen attention to detail is a must. I spend hours troubleshooting, analyzing data, anticipating problems, and creating additional info sheets to compliment the info I already get from clients. You know how you go to college and they tell you to study 3 hours for every hour you’re in class? Well, for every 10 minute setup, there’s an hour of pre-setup. It can be frustrating, mad tedious, and way too time consuming. But then, inevitably, there’s a glitch or discrepancy, or the system crashes, and all my info is still in tact or easily retraceable, all because I decided not to cut corners. That moment makes it all worthwhile. Being thorough is your safety net.
Organization is Key
Listen. Life has a lot of moving parts. One of the largest factors in efficiency is consistency. Develop some systems and habits that make things less complicated long term for yourself. How are you supposed to get ahead if you’re always playing catch up? Get your life together. Literally.
I hope this helps anyone impatiently waiting to be his/her own boss. Working somewhere with systems already in place can be the perfect ground for you to sharpen your skills. By the time you start signing your own paycheck you’ll, hopefully, have plenty of the harder earned lessons down pat.
What are some of the most important things you’ve learned at work?