My time at CNW has come to an end, so I thought for my last post I would offer advice to recent graduates entering the workforce. Over the past six weeks I have learned many things about myself, and even more about what it takes to be a successful member of a communications team.
Lesson 1: It is important to take a break.
As new graduates we often approach new jobs – and placements – with such enthusiasm that we forget something as simple as taking a break. Sitting at a desk all day in front of a computer screen makes it easy to work through lunch, and break times. The first piece of advice I received at CNW was that it is important to break up your day – so you don’t burn out. Instead of eating your lunch at your desk, eat in the lunch room, or go for a walk outside. It is important to give your brain a break in order to stay focused throughout the day – and doing so will allow you to work to the best of your ability.
Lesson 2: Mistakes are not the end of the world!
Okay – so mistakes aren’t exactly a good thing, but they certainly are not the end of the world. I am guilty of over thinking things, and during my time at CNW I will admit that when my mistakes were corrected my blood pressure rose slightly, and I felt my cheeks getting red. The important thing to keep in mind when you are is that no employer expects you to be perfect. In my experience a mistake is also a lesson, and chances are once you make it – and are corrected – you will not make it again. Use mistakes as a learning experience to improve the quality of your work, it will not only show your boss that you can take criticism, but also show your ability to learn.
Lesson 3: Don’t be afraid to ask questions!
Whether you are a student on placement – or starting your very first job – it is important to remember to ask questions. While it is true that mistakes are not the end of the world, you might be able to avoid them altogether if you aren’t afraid to ask. Asking a question means that you care about doing a good job, and chances are your boss would rather take five minutes to answer your question than spend an hour correcting your mistake down the road.
Lesson 4: A job done fast is not always a job well done.
I talked about this briefly in my time management blog post, but it is one of the more important lessons I learned working at CNW. As a recent graduate you may think that you can impress your employer by finishing assignments at lightning speed, but that is not the case. It is important to remember that a job done fast is not always a job well done, and that taking your time – and doing a good job – is more important than getting things done quickly.
Lesson 5: Provide progress reports!
This piece of advice is one that I found very helpful – and one that I never considered. This is especially useful to placement students, who are reporting to a busy department head. My supervisor sat me down at the half way point of my placement and asked me about my progress on several tasks I was assigned. I never considered actually telling her that I was done these things, since I somehow magically expected her to know. Lesson learned – provide progress reports to your supervisor, especially when you are a placement student. This shows them that you understand they are busy, and also lets them know they can give you more work to do.
Of course these are not the only lessons I learned, they just stood out as the most important – in my opinion. Chances are that a different person – with different strengths and weaknesses – would take home different lessons than me, but again I am just sharing my experience. When it comes to starting your first job, or doing placement for school, the best advice I can give you is do your best, and don’t sweat the small stuff.