Back to Square One

Mortarboard and DiplomaCongratulations to the graduating class of 2010! You made it through four years of college and you’ve achieved freedom (for the most part). As the majority of you look for and find your first professional job, I wish you all the best. But I also want to bestow some knowledge that I wish someone would have shared with me.

I was fortunate to be hired at a small PR firm in an account coordinator position three months after college graduation. I had three internships on my resume, a number of accolades, leadership roles and graduated magna cum laude. I was (what I thought) “on top.” Unstoppable. Valuable. Ready to take on the world.

Hold up. Wait a minute. This is going to sound very brutal and the students in the college classes I have guest-spoken to cringe when I say this. You are of little value to the professional world when you first graduate college. No matter your internship or job experience, how driven you are, etc., there are simply some things that come with having a full-time job for a certain period of time

Case in point: me. I thought I was hot stuff. Heh. The first six months of my professional PR life were spent with me calling my mom in a panic thinking I royally messed things up at my office, for my clients, with my boss. I, for the first time, wasn’t doing the best at something, and it was the worst feeling. (Nota bene: I am a hardcore perfectionist and am unforgiving of “Kate-inflicted” errors…). But I still am and will continue to keep learning as all professionals do.

Transitioning from an accomplished college senior to an entry-level position at any company is a rough change for many. You essentially are back to square one. If you take anything away from this, let it be this: there is a learning curve for everyone when you start a new or first job and that is totally OK. Everyone experiences this. What you need to make sure you do is find an employer who will understand this and help. I am blessed to have come to a firm where my boss understood my learning curve and had the utmost patience for my incessant questions. I am the PR professional today because of the team I work with.

So when you do land that first job, I will be thrilled to congratulate you, and offer a listening ear if ever you feel less than pleased with your performance. Go get ‘em tiger…erm bobcat!

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