By Jordana Heinke, Account Executive at Landis Communications, Inc.
When I first entered the work place, I’ll admit it was a major adjustment. A recent college grad, I found myself partaking in another type of graduation: one that took me from my student look of skinny jeans and hoodies to a complete career wardrobe overhaul. The change wasn’t just a couple of cardigans and black pencil skirts. My learning curve also included everything from lunch break protocol and telephone manners to office-appropriate chit-chat and email etiquette blunders. As an ambitious college graduate with honors, I looked great on paper. But, like many, I was about to embark down an unfamiliar road that required responsive navigating. The mistakes of water cooler gossip and the accidental ‘reply alls’ were necessary pit stops on my journey to becoming a young professional.
As a recently promoted Account Executive at Landis Communications, I’d like to share some of my key learnings for all those now holding their imaginary sign that reads “will work for…career.”
Don’t Come Up Short. You’re on your way to a meeting. The boss forgot his pen. Then he asks you who you’re meeting with. And, what was that address again? Your answers should never be: “I didn’t bring one,” “I don’t know,” “I know I have it somewhere” or “I left it at the office.” Take 20 minutes before you leave for any meeting to gather the following:
- Pens (including extras for those who forgot!)
- Directions (including parking instructions)
- Contact phone numbers and names of those you’ll be meeting with
- Business cards
- Your smart phone – should all the above fail.
Mistakes. Everyone makes them. Apologize if necessary, then assess the situation to see what you can learn from it. Remember, you are human and we all make mistakes.
Don’t Wear Anything Grandma Would Disapprove Of. This one speaks for itself but it is important to dress in a manner that reflects the office dress code. It may even be a good idea to invest in some great office-appropriate pieces that you can wear for many years to come.
Never Go Anywhere Without A Pen. Don’t even think about stepping into a client meeting, the boss’ office, or a staff meeting, without one. Something to write on is helpful, too.
Don’t Play the Game. Office politics can get sticky. Don’t give in to the urge to join the conversation, even if others around you are doing it.
Best Practices to Help You Shine
Voice your opinion. We know you have one. We’ve seen it all over Facebook. Your boss and coworkers want to hear you speak up—when it’s appropriate. Be prepared for that perfect pause in the conversation when you can add value without stepping on toes.
Follow up. Bosses forget things. Clients forget things. Be the one who remembers. It will get you far in life. Make calendar reminders for yourself for even the tiniest follow-up items. You will be a star for remembering the thing that everyone else forgot. The Number One key to success in public relations (besides having impeccably good timing) is follow up.
Be a team player. Never be “above” doing anything. Always work to support the good of the team.
Find a mentor. Find and try to learn everything you can from a career mentor. A good mentor will not only propel you far in your career, but can also become a great reference for you in the future.
Smile. Never bring personal drama to the workplace. You should strive to be the positive breeze in the office.
As the proverbial road stretches out to the horizon, I know I have a long way yet to go. I also expect plenty more ‘learnable moments’ (mistakes) along the way. I encourage you to embrace your own moments and the opportunities they present. You’ll be better for it.