What I Wish I Knew about the Real World Before I Started Working

What do I wish I knew about the Real World before I started working? As a Brazen Careerist member, I thought I would contribute to the JobSTART101 blog series, where they asked members this same question to answer in their own post. So here are my thoughts…

In my college business program, I learned a lot from my classes by applying myself in team projects that connected to real businesses or people. These projects focused on active student participation and engagement with different activities in the classroom. Professors who gave me team projects where I had to come up an entire marketing campaign was the closest I was going to get to real world similarities in a classroom environment.

Being in the real world for six months now (wow time flies!); I’ve realized the only thing that I didn’t really focus on was how connected everyone is with each other within specific industries. Networks are so vast and reach all corners of the world, confirming that it is a small world after all!

In seeing this trend, I knew how important it was to start building my own professional network.  I recently started attending some local networking events in my area.  I had such an uneasy feeling at my first one going alone.  I had never done anything like this in college- the closest thing was career fairs and other student events with people my age. When I walked into my first networking event alone, I panicked because I was the youngest one in the building!  Right after graduation a few months ago, I didn’t know how to easily connect with people who represented different generations- I admit it. At my first real world networking event for work, I wished I had attended more formal events which my school offered to practice such skills to prepare before entering the workplace.

I guess once you’re thrown into something brand new, there’s no turning back- you have to face the situation and learn everything on the spot. I never realized networking takes practice, and I still regret not going to the “networking breakfasts” that my career services offered for students to connect with local business people. That would’ve been such great practice, and would’ve made things a lot smoother if I attended those. Even though I can still be shy, I just look for something in common with the person I just met. For instance, with some guys I can talk about football. It breaks the ice, and makes both sides feel comfortable.

Currently, after going to a few more networking meetings since the first, I developed a better sense of communication with everyone. After these “practice runs,” I know how to properly approach someone I never met before and strike up a conversation. I wished my professors warned me about this and just have told me, “Be outgoing.” Lesson learned: attend everything that your career services center offers where you can build a variety of skills. Even if you don’t think you’ll need it- think again…

Post written by Julie Skowronek, Marketing Coordinator at Whiting Consulting.

Photo credit: The Elevator Speech Therapist

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