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Some people leave University, or college, or school and seem to slide easily into their perfect starter job, moving through the ranks until they’re buying a 4 bed 2 bath at 25. When I left University, I felt like a fish who’d been flipped out of its tank, lying on the ground gasping for air and flapping around aimlessly until people threw teaspoons of water on me. Okay that *might* be a slight over-exaggeration but honestly, I had no clue. I told people I wanted to go into publishing because I’d done two weeks work experience at Penguin and they had an in-house cafeteria. Deep down I had no idea what I wanted to do and I don’t think I’m alone in this. Universities prepare you for handing your work in precisely one minute before twelve but they do not prepare you for entering the working world. I was lucky/driven in that I ended up (eventually) falling into a career I loved and now work for myself, from home, doing a job I look forward to getting up to. The Gen Y dream. But if it wasn’t for these little nuggets of advice, some I learnt myself, some given to me from others, I’m not sure I ever would have made it through.

1. “When you don’t get something it’s because there’s something even better waiting around the corner for you”

This is the type of thing that is completely Lolz when you’ve just received your sixth rejection letter and are about to get evicted from your flat, but it was something said to me by my Stepmum after a series of rejections and it turns out, she was right. Because if I’d had got one of those jobs that I thought I wanted, I would never have ended up taking a temporary filler job, which led to me moving into marketing while travelling the world, going to work for one of the coolest agencies in London and then becoming self-employed. So believe it, because there are big cogs turning that you will never see and never know about, but they’re always turning in the right direction for you, taking you to where you need to be.

2. Think before you speak

I’m not sure who said this to me, I think it’s just one of those things that becomes ingrained after you’ve asked a friend if she’s pregnant (just bloated) one too many times. In the working world, this is key. There are almost two sides to us; the human being who likes hot baths and listening to Britney Spears really, really loudly and the functioning human being who we take to work who says things like ‘consequently’. It’s perfectly fine for the two to cross over every now and again but one thing that often slips through, is our ability to answer quickly without thinking. It took me a good few cringey emails before I realised that you should always take at least an hour before you reply to something that has got you a bit rilled. Firing back a reply off the cuff will make you come across defensive, obstinate or just stupid; because you usually are in the heat of the moment. Take a breath, make a coffee and then look at it again you reasonable human being, you.

3. “Don’t worry about what everyone else is doing”

This is something my boyfriend still says to me every other day. I find it near on impossible to not compare myself, my work, my salary to how everyone else is doing and unfortunately all this does is leave you feeling terrible inadequate. It’s good to set a marker sure, to know what you’re aiming for and that the line of progression is there, but worrying about who gets paid more than you, who got taken out for lunch with the boss and so on, just distracts from what you should be doing. And what you should be doing is making sure you’re doing the best at your job and not worrying about everyone else. Good advice right?

4. If you want it, ask

This was said to me by a male colleague after every other (male) colleague seemed to get a payrise that year and I hadn’t. For him it was simple; if you think you deserve something, ask for it. Now without going all Sanberg on you, I do think there is a wider issue here on gender norms and how it’s received when a woman asks for more money, in comparison to a man, but generally I think this is something we should all work towards, where it is normal of anyone (regardless of sex) to be able to ask for what they genuinely think they deserve. I don’t even like talking about money, let alone asking for more of it (chasing up late payments breaks me out in a cold sweat) but after I bottled it in a review, I did see another female colleague ask for what she thought she deserved, nail it and have the big guys agree. So the moral of the story is, if you want it: ask.

5. “Be louder”

This was given to me by one of my bosses in an appraisal a few years ago and it’s something I’ve really had to work on; to be a bit louder about what I’m working on. If you’re like me and it doesn’t come naturally to boost or show off what you’re doing or what you’ve achieved, people will often just assume that well… you’re not doing anything. The point was, to show off a bit more and not be afraid to draw attention to what I was doing and what I had achieved. So ensure you celebrate your wins and don’t be afraid to draw a little more attention to yourself – especially if you deserve it.

6. Pace yourself

This was actually something my Mum used to say to me before I went out drinking with my friends and I’m not sure downing WKDs in one was quite what she had in mind, but when you’re drinking with work this is everything. It’s very easy when you’re out on a work do (and by this I mean with bosses, clients etc. rather than just a few bevies with your work BFF) to forget that the people you’re with are your colleagues as well as your friends. This always ends in tears. You’ll either piss someone off, say something you shouldn’t or be forever known as that one who was sick over the MD (or worse). Don’t get me wrong, have a good time, have a few drinks and let your hair down so everyone can see that you aren’t all spreadsheets and agendas, but just remember where you are and who you’re with. And never be the last one to leave the party.

7. “So what if not everyone likes you?”

As someone who quite likes to be liked (don’t we all?) it took me a good long while to learn that’s it okay not to be liked by everyone. There are some people who, it doesn’t matter what you do, will just not like you. This will happen in real life but probably more so in the working world. Naturally, because you can pick the people you want to spend your weekend with and avoid the ones you don’t, but unfortunately in the work world you do not have this option. I once spent the best part of a year trying really hard to get a work colleague to like me and to work out why she didn’t. What a waste of time it was. Everyone kept telling me that it didn’t matter if she didn’t like me, to get on with my job and ignore her but I thought that there must be something we could push through. There wasn’t. Girl was just a bitch. So sometimes, people just won’t like you for whatever reason and you have to accept that and move on.

8. Trust your intuition

Everyone has intuition. You are born with it. It’s the reason why babies panic if you pretend to drop them and why you just get *that feeling* about certain people who freak you out and you’re not quite sure why. In the working world, you have to be in touch with your sense of intuition to ensure you make the right decisions every day. Because often, there’s no one else to do it for you.

9. “Reach for the moon and even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars”

My Dad wrote this in a card to me just before I set off to University and it’s something I try to live by. I set really high expectations for myself and while sometimes, it can feel like a lot of pressure, it always means that you end up somewhere that you’re happy with. Try as hard as you can, work as much as makes you happy and always believe that you can do something if you just work hard enough. Because usually, you can.

Beth Gladstone

Beth is a Writer and Digital Marketer who founded The Full Agenda as a place to talk about the things that kept her and her friends up at night. Currently working as a Marketing consultant to various SMEs she is a big fan of the startup market and loves technology, apps and anything social media related. When not obsessively checking Google Analytics, she can be found reading, writing or relaxing with a glass of Prosecco.

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2 Comments

  1. Kimberley Vassell / July 15, 2015 at 11:29 am /Reply

    This was great! I’ve just graduated and trying to find my feet in a digital media/creative world and it’s tough! Your post reminded me that I’m not alone in struggling to make sense of life post-uni, thanks! xXx

    • Beth Gladstone / July 15, 2015 at 11:35 am /Reply

      So glad the post could help Kimberley, don’t give up! It is tough out there but you go through these battles for a reason and you will always end up exactly where you’re meant to be, I honestly believe that!x

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