You walk out of the exam room knowing that you’re officially a graduate, you hand in your notice at the part time job you’ve been doing since school, you finish your summer internship. Regardless of the paths that have led us there, we’ve all been in that limbo period just before ‘adult’ life truly begins; where we’re staring down the barrel of the gun that is the world of work, not quite sure what we’re getting into.
This was where I was when I started at Pumpkin almost a year ago. Exhilarated, slightly terrified – ready to leap into the unknown. Ten months later and those feelings may have mellowed (at least a little), but I now have a set of skills and experiences I would never have imagined. We’re often told that the first six months of our careers will be our biggest learning curve, and in my experience, that couldn’t have been truer. Whether that was working out what a KPI was, or building my first working relationship, there were a few key things that I learnt pretty early on.
We’re told over and over again that we should trust our gut instincts, but it was only when I started working in PR that I realised just how important they are. I didn’t have a repertoire of experience to rely on, so at first, decision making was a combination of my own intuition and support from the team. Whilst I was always told that there’s no such thing as a silly question, I had to find the balance between asking enough and making my own judgements. A few weeks in, I started trying to pre-empt the answers to the questions I asked before I received them, and as my instinct increasingly matched the team’s advice, I became more confident and more independent.
A team that’s on side is the biggest asset that your workplace can give you. This may seem like a given, but there’s still a wrongful assumption that business is a dog eat dog world, and that we must have a certain level of fierceness in order to survive. This is simply not true. In fact, Forbes recently revealed that one of the top five qualities employers value in the people they hire is the ability to ‘play well’ with each other, always working as a team, regardless of the challenges. Having colleagues that I feel not only support me, but genuinely want to see me flourish, has been absolutely integral to my first year of PR.
Nothing will ever really prepare you for what the working world hits you with. Writing an essay is not the same as writing a press release, a blog post or even an email. Getting up for a 9am lecture is not the same as working a 9-6 day. But equally, you’re probably more capable than you think you are of making the phone call you’re so anxious about, or suggesting that thought piece idea that you’ve been sitting on. When you’re starting out, it can be hard to know where you stand, but having the confidence to put yourself out there is really what made me start feeling like a genuinely valuable part of the team. You were hired for a reason, so more often than not, the person you have to prove yourself most to, is you.