Starting From the Bottom

Hey Cats!

It has been quite a while since I’ve had a chance to blog, so I’m happy to be back! Even though I don’t have homework anymore, 9-5 every day is a lot more time consuming than I thought it was going to be, so a lot of evenings after I go to the gym (if I make it there) and cook dinner, it’s 8:30 and time for Bravo and then bed. And since I’m still making friends, I try to do something social on the weekends, like a normal person, so that’s cut out a lot of weekend blogging time as well. But I think we would all agree that real friends are more important than my blog, as fun as it is. I digress.

Speaking of the 9-5, I actually really enjoy the routine of going to work every day. Honestly, I’ve always really liked working. It makes me feel like a productive member of society, it gives me a sense of accomplishment, and I think it gives me a constant opportunity to learn something new, whether that’s about my industry, or about how to do better at my job.

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My first job ever was a summer nanny when I was in high school. That position taught me how to get to work on time and be a semi-responsible person, and led me to develop incredibly unhealthy spending habits, but that’s a story for another day.

The summer after my sophomore year in college, I interned at a law firm in my hometown. It started as two days of shadowing the attorneys, because at that time I wanted to go to law school, but then they told me to come back on the third day, and I just kept showing up until it was time for me to go back to school. That experience will probably always be my favorite, because I learned so much, everything was so interesting, and I loved the people I worked with. I could always tell that they wanted to help me be my best, so that’s what I always tried to do, and continue to try to do.

First of all, the experience of just being in a professional environment was incredibly valuable. Seeing how everyone interacted with each other, with clients, and with other professionals in the field taught me how to interact with those people as well. I observed that it was important to treat people with respect, but also that sometimes it’s necessary to let people know when you mean business. I believe that professionalism is an incredibly important skill to master, and something that should be exhibited in everything from a cover letter, interview, follow-up email, and every day you show up to work. Even on a Monday. This glimpse of the real world that I got from my internship was something that not only helped me get jobs, but it helped me understand what type of  environment I work best in. That being said, choosing a job is a bit like choosing a college- yes, they have to accept you, but first it’s important to do your research to make sure that it’s the place for you, and that your values line up with the company’s.

One other valuable lesson I learned at this job was never to say, “that’s not my job”. Well, I learned how valuable that kind of an attitude is in the workplace. My dad told me that many times growing up, but I never understood why a team-player attitude was so important until I started working in an office. About the second week, I was told to organize the supply closet. I was less than thrilled about this task, because it was across the hall from everyone else’s office, and at this point I still thought my role was practically a junior attorney (L O L). But I did it anyways. It took me about three days. I didn’t whine about it, I didn’t try to get out of it, and I only cried once when I fell off the stepladder and bruised myself in three places. I also didn’t do a crappy job just to get it over with. I have learned that if you work with excellence in even the smallest of tasks, people notice, and they’re more likely to give you larger, more important responsibilities. Also, one time the toilet overflowed in the bathroom, and I had to clean it up. At first I thought about trying to get out of it…that was definitely not my job. I mean, I had cleaned someone else’s toilet on a mission trip, but that was for Jesus. We had a cleaning crew for this. But then, I thought about how much damage it could do, and how clients would react to a closed women’s restroom. Not pretty. So, I cleaned it up, and then spent the next forty-five minutes with a towel trying to soak up the water that had leaked onto the carpet in the hall. Not exactly my favorite day at work, but definitely a memorable one. Through these and other experiences, I learned how important it is, especially in an entry-level position, to have a positive attitude no matter what is thrown at you, and to go into work with the idea that you’re there to help the company as a whole achieve a common goal. So if that means helping a co-worker when she’s overwhelmed, do it. If that means subbing in for the janitor, do it. Now, I’m not saying to let people take advantage of you. If you have too much on your plate, don’t feel like you have to do extra things. And obviously, don’t ever do anything unethical. But by viewing your position as a member of a team rather than an individual, you will show those around you that you take not only yourself seriously, but that you are a full supporter of the company and it’s purpose, and that will get you pretty far.

So if you’re starting from the bottom, the idea is to make sure your whole team gets here. At least that’s what Drake says.

What was the most valuable lesson you learned from your first job? Let me know!

That’s all for meow!

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