Thinking about a career in Marketing or PR? You likely have some pre-conceived notions about the position—Mad Men-esque awesometastical clients, wild agency parties or scoring sweet swag from your latest batch of A-list clients.
Consider this your wake-up call. Before you sigh, roll your eyes and wander off to watch more of the Olympics, stay with me. My team and I have huddled and some valuable advice for you—and not the “When we were your age, we walked uphill to school! Both ways! In 10 feet of snow! Barefoot!” variety. Instead, we want to impart some hard-learned wisdom that will (hopefully) help you decide if a career in Marketing or PR is really the career path for you. Sure, imagining your dream job is fun. But sometimes a dose of reality from those who have been there can help you make better decisions as you start your professional journey. And by the way, this advice applies to just about any career … or at least we think it might.
So, without further ado, I give you, future Markering or PR pros of the world, 8 tips from the V3 team:
Learn to Love Learning
That’s really been the secret of my success—and it’s true for just about everyone on our team. We’re the dorks who loved every minute of school and we still love learning. And do it daily. Technology and tools are changing faster than ever, and you’ll need to be at the top of your game to best serve your clients and the company for which you work, large or small. Books, blogs, webinars, conferences, workshops—whatever tools you use, make learning an ongoing priority.
Get Ready to Work
When you start your career, chances are you’re going to work hard. Probably the hardest you’ve worked in your life. And news flash–in most instances, your paycheck won’t be all that awesome. But the more time and effort you put in now, the more it’ll pay off down the line.
Listen and Observe
Be a sponge. Watch and stay attuned to what’s going on around you. Listen to your bosses, your colleagues and your clients. And remember that it’s always OK to ask questions—that is, after all, how you better learn your job. But you’d be surprised at how much information you can pick up just by paying attention and by focusing in on those around you, as well as other industry professionals whose career paths and expertise inspire you.
Find A Mentor
Creating a relationship with someone whose career you admire and want to emulate is not only good for your professional network—it will likely help you advance in your career, too. Take this person out for lunch or coffee, ask questions and be prepared to listen (and learn—sound familiar, right?) Be humble. Be open. And be ready to accept constructive criticism. It will make you a more valuable asset and better prepare you for future opportunities.
No one wants to make mistakes, but they happen to us all. And you’ll make mistakes, too. And as you start your career, you may even make them often. Each time you do, learn from it—and don’t let it happen again. And don’t ever try to lie or cover up a mistake. Admit it, own it, learn from it. Your co-workers and bosses will respect and admire you for it.
Accept That Change is Inevitable
In today’s fast-moving world, change isn’t a possibility, it’s a given. And it’s pretty much a guarantee that what you think will happen when you take on a new job and what actually does happen will be two very different things. Maybe your career path veers off in an unexpected direction. Or you’ll get assigned to a department you didn’t expect or a boss different than the one who hired you. Or maybe a new client relationship requires you to learn an unfamiliar industry. Things change—that’s simply a fact of life. But being open to change, rather than resistant, not only might introduce you to a new facet of your business—it may lead you to a more rewarding career, too.
Maintain a Work-Life Balance
Sure, you’re about to work really hard. But don’t let that stop you from having a life. Take some time for yourself, your friends and your partner. Exercise regularly. Participate in sports, if that’s your thing. Make time for your favorite activities and favorite people. Meet co-workers for a happy hour and participate on company sports teams, outings and the like. Early in my career in advertising my very best friends were all co-workers and I still smile thinking about all the fun we had together. Oh, and I can’t even count how many of them eventually married one another—another bonus. When you choose a career in marketing or PR the hours can be hectic and demands great, but making sure you have “me time” and having fun along with all the work will go a long way in restoring your energy and mental clarity.
Knock the Chip Off Your Shoulder
Justified or not, younger generations are often stereotyped as being entitled or insufferable know-it-alls. News flash: You don’t know it all. No one does. Remember all that earlier talk about learning and working hard? Keep all of that in mind as you start your career. That doesn’t mean you can’t share your opinions and suggest that things be done differently from time to time. Just make sure you’re prepared for feedback. This is all part of paying your dues—and it can be a humbling experience. To our way of thinking, great things happen when teams are comprised of people with all different levels of experience and all different ages—and when they all respect one another and put their efforts toward doing what really matters: producing results for clients. And chips on shoulders? They only get in the way. On anyone. Of any age.
Starting your career is undoubtedly scary—but it’s downright exhilarating, too. As we talked about this post internally, remembering those early days in our careers brought lots of smiles, lots of stories and much nostalgia. Those were some of the very best years—for all of us, for so many reasons. So do us a favor, will you? Make the most of them.
And if you’re in the early stages of your career, we’d love to hear from you. What have you learned that was different than what you expected? What do you wish you’d done differently? What one thing do you wish someone had told you before you started your career? We’d love to hear your stories—and your words of wisdom!
Image via dondraper.tumblr.com