5.2.16 41

The 3 Best Pieces of Career Advice I’ve Ever Received

Happy Monday, y’all!

Before we get started today, I want to thank you all for the positive support on my last career post, What I Wish I Knew Before I Started My First Job. All the ladies that contributed to that post are boss b*tches, and I am really glad you guys are just as excited about work-related content as I am.

My first job was working at a high-end toy store during my high school summers. My two best friends also worked there, and even though we were not paid on commission, we loved seeing who could rack up the most sales or wrap an oddly-shaped kids birthday gift the fastest. I made $6.75 an hour, and during our half-hour lunch breaks, we’d walk down to the Chipotle and enjoy burrito bowls, which at the time were $5.25.

Between then and now, a lot more has changed than the price of Chipotle. But along my journey from Sales Associate then to Creative Associate today, I’ve encountered and worked with some amazing people, and have been lucky enough to have people take me under their wing as a mentee. Along the way, I’ve garnered a lot of advice from these people, but I today I wanted to share with you the 3 best pieces of career advice I’ve ever received.

3 invaluable career tips
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LESSON #1: WE WORK IN PR, NOT THE ER. 

If you do work in the Emergency Room or anywhere else in a hospital, doctor’s office, outpatient clinic, rehab facility, or lab, I commend you. I would have a more successful career just about anywhere else than in the medical field due to my needle intolerance and inability to understand basic science. I also apologize because this lesson probably doesn’t apply to you medically inclined ladies—or at least, I hope it doesn’t.

You see, this phrase is my Georgetown professor’s battlecry, and I think it has a lot of validity. In public relations/marketing/communications/insert any other field here, it’s really easy to get caught up in the day-to-day deadline hustle and lose the ability to see the bigger picture—especially if you work in a details-focused role. Whether your stressed about the quality of a deliverable or deck, had to drop some really bad news on a client or your boss, or really really messed up at work, it can sometimes seem like the most dramatic or worst thing ever.

But you know what?

No one is going to die because you forgot to change the font on one slide of the Powerpoint to “light” weight instead of “book” weight. So what you messed up a meeting time—you didn’t mess up an important dose of medication. You know what I’m saying? So many things in life that cause us stress just aren’t worth stressing about, and all that unnecessary anxiety will probably land you in the ER faster than an accelerated nursing program.

I’m not saying that attention to detail isn’t important, or that you should just stop stressing about everything at work—though if you figure out how, please let me know—I’m just saying it’s important to keep things in perspective and realize what matters in the grand scheme of life.

3 invaluable career tips
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LESSON #2: ASK FOR FEEDBACK ON YOUR PERFORMANCE AS OFTEN AS YOU CAN, FROM MANY DIFFERENT PEOPLE. 

The organizations I’ve worked at really run the gamut in terms of how often—and how—feedback is given.

At my first internship, my supervisor would stop me on the spot and tell me everything I did wrong in that instance. For example, the second I would hang up the phone from talking with a customer, she would itemize all the things I could have said better. But she wasn’t very good at telling me what I was doing well, so it was a very draining work experience since I thought I was doing everything wrong. At other organizations, I have had managers wait six months to tell me I’ve been doing something wrong or provide insight on how I could improve the process, and that’s left me annoyed they didn’t speak up sooner so I could begin working on bettering my habits and work product.

But however uncomfortable feedback may be—though, I think we can all agree positive feedback feels great, which is why I encourage you to cheer your coworkers on when they do something well—it’s important to ask for it often. Don’t be afraid to schedule check-ins with your manager more often than your annual review so that nothing is a surprise and you can work on the things you need to improve before a performance review comes around, especially since performance reviews are generally tied to money. You want to improve as much year over year as you can!

I also think it’s important to ask other people that you work with—that aren’t your manager—for feedback often so that you can get a more 360-degree look at how you’re perceived* at work. The better adept you are at asking and adjusting for the feedback your given, the more likely it is you’ll win supporters and advocates in your organization and industry, and the more quickly your career can grow.

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*One thing I really struggle with in performance reviews is other’s perceptions about me that I don’t believe to be true. For instance, a manager once told me that they felt like they couldn’t give me work that bleeds into after-work hours. Yet, a few points before in their feedback, they said they could trust me with any project long- or short-term and know I would get it done on time, and done well. I didn’t understand how both statements could be true.

So, of course, I focused on the negative comment instead of the positive since I really felt like it was unfair assertion. So I did what any adult would do—I went home and cried about it to my dad. And instead of taking my side, he basically told me that perceptions about performance were just as important as truths. Even though I didn’t agree with the comment I wouldn’t stay late at work, I needed to understand that this was now a perception I needed to manage and prove not by countering what my manager said, but by showing them otherwise with my actions.

Remember—your personal brand is what people say about you when you’re not in the room.

3 invaluable career tips
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LESSON #3: THE MENTEE DOESN’T CHOOSE THE MENTOR. 

I think when people talk about mentors, and address that piece of advice to millennial women, they fall trap to the idea that you can choose a mentor. That’s all fine and good, but a mentor, in theory, spends a lot of time investing in you, guiding you, and giving you advice. I don’t know about y’all, but I barely have time to keep up with my good friends, let alone someone who asked me randomly to be their mentor—whatever that really means.

So recently, a wise woman who I looked up to made a really good point when she told me the thing most people fail to recognize is that the mentor chooses the mentee.

Because of this, it’s important to make yourself coachable and show that you are willing to learn. People are more willing to invest their time in you if you’re going to show up and put in the hard work.

Now I am not saying you shouldn’t seek advice from those in your industry who have more experience than you or who have the job you hope to hold someday. But I think it’s important to realize that you have to demonstrate your willingness to learn, flexibility, and openness to new ideas in order for people to want to spend the time developing you.

And remember—it’s important to pay it forward one day!

3 invaluable career tips
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Leave a Comment

41 Comments

  1. Logan wrote:

    Asking for feedback is so important! I learned that back when I was dancing (way way back in the day) and have found that it is very sound advice for a lot of things in life. Great points!

    Published 5.2.16
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    • Katie wrote:

      Completely agree – glad you’ve found it helpful, too!

      Published 5.4.16
      Reply
  2. candy wrote:

    The advice of the mentee not choosing the mentor is dead on. The mentor knows what they are looking for when the interview you. Might not be a great match.

    Published 5.2.16
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    • Katie wrote:

      Yes! Completely agree! :]

      Published 5.4.16
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  3. These office pics are amazing, so girly I love it! I absolutely agree with #2. And #3 is great too, I am so grateful for amazing mentors. And grateful they chose me to mentor. It really is so true, like in our business my husband and I are in, we totally pick who we spend time working with and who we don’t. People are truly ready to be mentored or they are not.
    Danielle | AccordingtoD.com

    Published 5.2.16
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    • Katie wrote:

      Thanks lady! I wish they were mine :] Glad that’s been your experience, too!

      Published 5.4.16
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  4. Shannon wrote:

    These are all great pieces of advice. I especially like the first one…I’m all for meeting deadlines and making sure everything is in order prior to finishing up, but if something isn’t perfect it really is not the end of the world and it frustrates me when people think it is. Yes, we should always put in 100%, but things happen. And I never really thought about the whole mentor/mentee situation, but that really does make perfect sense! Thanks for sharing these!

    Shannon
    Clothes & Quotes

    Published 5.2.16
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    • Katie wrote:

      I completely agree! I would much rather have things done and get on with our lives 🙂 Glad they were helpful! xo

      Published 5.4.16
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  5. Holly wrote:

    Asking for feedback is so hard for me. I know it is so that I can get better, but I hate hearing the bad things.

    Published 5.2.16
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    • Katie wrote:

      I completely agree! But hopefully the person giving criticism does it in a constructive way.

      Published 5.4.16
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  6. Emily wrote:

    These are amazing tips! I especially thinkv#2 is important… it is so difficult to ask for feedback, but it so important to the process of growth and success. I am inspired by your post to do it more!

    Published 5.2.16
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    • Katie wrote:

      You go girl! xo

      Published 5.4.16
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  7. Samantha wrote:

    Everyone should take this to heart because it’s such fantastic advice. I especially love the first one. Yes I stress about a lot of tiny details, but if I miss one little thing, it’s not the end of the world. I’ve felt a lot more mellow since I adopted that attitude. 🙂

    Published 5.2.16
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    • Katie wrote:

      Thanks Samantha! I have too – so important in life :]

      Published 5.4.16
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  8. Cara wrote:

    This is really great advice. As a marketing/communications professional #1 really resonates with me. It’s hard to not get caught up in nitty gritty details all the time when that’s what my job entails, but learning to see the bigger picture is huge. Great post!

    Published 5.2.16
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    • Katie wrote:

      Completely agree! xo

      Published 5.4.16
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  9. Rachel wrote:

    Love this! There’s so much you learn on the job that really makes all the difference. Asking for feedback is so important!

    Published 5.2.16
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    • Katie wrote:

      Completely agree, Rachel!

      Published 5.4.16
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  10. This is GREAT advice! I especially love #1 — I work in digital marketing, so I say that all the time 🙂

    Published 5.2.16
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    • Katie wrote:

      SO IMPORTANT!

      Published 5.4.16
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  11. These are all really great suggestions! The mentee not choosing the mentor is new to me though.

    Published 5.2.16
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    • Katie wrote:

      Yeah – I am sure not everyone will agree with it, but something I’ve picked up on the way.

      Published 5.4.16
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  12. suzanne wrote:

    I love this. The idea that the mentee doesn’t choose the mentor is so spot on. Insightful and inspiring post!

    http://mykindofsweet.com/

    Published 5.2.16
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    • Katie wrote:

      Glad it was helpful! xo

      Published 5.4.16
      Reply
  13. Jackie wrote:

    I also agree that feedback is so important in professional development! The hard part for me is not asking for the feedback, but accepting the negative with the positive. I always say I want to hear it, but deep down, I have a hard time with that…but I’m working on it!

    Such a great post, and loving all of the gorgeous photos.

    Jackie
    Something About That

    Published 5.2.16
    Reply
    • Katie wrote:

      I have a hard time, too! And I think that is just the natural human reaction. Thanks lady! xo

      Published 5.4.16
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  14. Molly wrote:

    Feedback is super important! Great advice 😉

    Published 5.3.16
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    • Katie wrote:

      Thanks Molly! xo

      Published 5.4.16
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  15. These are great tips.

    Published 5.3.16
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    • Katie wrote:

      Thanks Heather!

      Published 5.4.16
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  16. I love this series Katie! So true about not sweating the small stuff. It may seem like a big deal at the time, but when looking at the bigger picture, it really doesn’t matter. And I completely agree that mentors choose mentees. My first boss at my first real job took me under her wing and helped point me in the right direction and for that, I am forever grateful!

    Taffeta & Tulips

    Published 5.3.16
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    • Katie wrote:

      Thanks Kate! Glad your experiences back up my advice! Sounds like you’ve had some pretty great mentors!

      Published 5.4.16
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  17. Lezley wrote:

    These are great tips. I graduate soon and am on the shunt for a job so I will keep these things in mind when I start working.

    Published 5.3.16
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    • Katie wrote:

      Definitely! Best of luck!

      Published 5.4.16
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  18. Lindsey wrote:

    Great advice. I love the first one!! And number 3 is interesting. I still haven’t found a mentor but this made me feel better.

    Published 5.3.16
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    • Katie wrote:

      Yeah girl! All in good time :]

      Published 5.4.16
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  19. Alison wrote:

    This is such great advice. I especially love your college professors saying – every mistake seems so important at the time doesn’t it but it really isn’t life or death.

    Published 5.4.16
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    • Katie wrote:

      Yes! Definitely puts life in perspective.

      Published 5.4.16
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  20. Great tips! I never really thought about the fact that the mentor should choose the mentee. Typically you think that the person needing help would reach out to someone they admire. But it does make sense that the mentor be the one to reach out because they truly want to work with and help the person. But I guess that it really boils down to getting their attention in the first place.

    Published 5.5.16
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    • Katie wrote:

      Yeah! I definitely think it can go both ways, but the mentor has to want to work with you, you know? Hope you have a great weekend! xo

      Published 5.6.16
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  21. Awesome tips because they all hit home in some way. For example, I work as a content writer, and after coming back to work from sick leave, I’m quickly having to hit my deadlines on a daily basis or they’ll be no content. O_O Obviously you can imagine the increase in my anxiety & stress levels. But after taking the time to review with my editor, we came with a plan to effectively get caught up by repurposing old content while working on the side to get fresh content out there for our business. So thank you for reminding me just how important perspective, review and mentorship are to a healthy work and experiential lifestyle. Much love to you 😀

    Published 5.12.16
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