What You Really Learn From Your First Year on the Job

You'll contribute a lot more than you think

You know that starting your first job in the media or ad world will be a huge adjustment from college life, but what's the experience really like, and what can you expect?

Adweek spoke with recent grads —Julia Bush, associate social media editor at The Huffington Post; Emily Dias, junior copywriter at FCB Health; and Roze Pirvany, social strategist at MRY—to find out.

Check out the video above for more on their experiences, and read on for the three most surprising lessons they learned in their first year in the office. 

         

1. Be ready to jump into the deep end 

All of the women were surprised by the amount of responsibility they were given in their entry-level gigs. "When you get there, you see pictures of Arianna [Huffington] everywhere," Bush said of her first day at The Huffington Post in June 2015. "Having to walk into such an established and successful organization and say, 'I'm here to work for you' is so nuts. I thought I'd be doing coffee runs, or replying to other people's emails. Having [my colleagues] listen to me, and pay attention to me in a meeting was so shocking. I was surprised that people would take me seriously as a 23-year-old anywhere."

Before she knew it, Bush had taken control of HuffPost's Snapchat efforts. "I could pitch something for Snapchat, and they would say, 'OK, let's do it.' I got a ton of experience coming up with my own ideas. I started pitching a bunch of stuff for Snapchat, and eventually people started saying, 'Julia runs Snapchat,' and I said, 'I guess I kind of do.'"

Dias, who started at FCB Health in July 2015, was also surprised at the level of responsibility she was afforded as a junior copywriter. "Coming out of school, coming in as a junior, I was surprised and glad that my ideas were valued so much," she said. "I get to work on a lot of new business pitches, which is super cool."

         

2. Confidence will get you everywhere

Agency newbies shouldn't be afraid to offer their opinions right away, Dias said. "Agencies want you for your ideas. They know that people who just graduated college have a fresher perspective than people who have been in advertising for 20 years."

When it comes to job searching, Pirvany, who moved to MRY in New York in November 2015, where she works with brands like Visine, Listerine and Band-Aid, advises new grads not to be afraid to apply for a job that they might feel underqualified for. "My first job out of school, when I was very clueless and very green, I applied at a startup for a director of marketing position. [It was] hilarious that a 22-year-old just out of school was doing that, but someone found my resume in the stack of applicants, and thought I would be useful, so they made up a role for me."

"You also have to very much own the fact that you can absolutely kill at this job," she added. "When you go into an interview, when you're writing your cover letter, when you're working on your resume, the confidence that you can do this job really well is an asset that can't be underestimated. If you have some doubt, employers can pick up on that really easily."

         

3. There's no such thing as right or wrong timing

Don't fret if you don't land your dream job right away, Bush said. "When you're about to graduate, you see all the social media posts about your friends getting jobs, and it gets really overwhelming and stressful. There's pressure to have something lined up, or tell people what you're doing. Comparing yourself to others isn't worth it. Timelines are so dumb. No one's going to care if you got your first job in June, or in September, or if you had to sleep on your mom's couch for two months before you figured it out."

Patience also is a virtue when it comes to your results at work. "When you're coming out of school, you expect the fruits of your work to happen easier, because that's the way the academic system is: If you study for three weeks, you get an A on your test," Pirvany said. "In post-grad, it takes longer to see your results, whether it's working at a crap job so you can get the skills to be in a better one, or maintaining a work ethic so that when it comes time for promotion season, you get one, it's not as fast as six weeks or four months. Having patience is really important."

Illustrations: Getty Images

 Need some career advice?

Check out Adweek's 2016 Graduate's Guide to Marketing and Media.