Yesterday I watched (via Twitter) as a new class of Grady students was welcomed into the Grady Grad family. It has been three years since I said adieu to Athens and graduated from the University of Georgia and while I’ve loved every second of my last three years in the “real world,” I would go back in a heart beat.
The last three years have taken me on a journey to learn to balance, given me more opportunities to step up to the plate at work than I could have ever imagined and have quickly proven that as I may have thought on that day three years ago, life does not end after graduation. While three years isn’t quite a life changing milestone, major life event or whatnot, I’m simply going to stick to the pattern I’ve made out of the last few years (you can read more on that here and here), and share what’s changed in the last 1,095 days.
Here are a few tid-bits I’ve picked up in my ageless 24-year old wisdom:
1. Own technology, don’t let it own you.
How crazy is it to think that just three years ago most of us didn’t even own a smartphone? I myself didn’t make that leap until summer after I graduated college. It’s difficult to even imagine that during my four years in school I not only didn’t have a tiny little computer in my pocket, but I also didn’t even take one in my backpack. I left my laptop at home and took notebooks full of scratch. To think, I would go a WHOLE DAY without checking email, Facebook or Twitter and that was completely normal? Don’t even get me started on what it would be like in college pre-computer days though, that might just blow my mind.
The class of 2017 (yes, that’s a thing now) doesn’t know a world without smartphones. So here’s my challenge to you: control it. Yes, be sure to Instagram the leaves as they change on North Campus come October, but be sure to sit down under an actual Oak tree and enjoy them as well.
2. Own a blazer
And other nice things. I’m the queen of bargain hunting when it comes to clothes. It wasn’t until my 24th birthday that I spent more than $50 on a single piece of clothing (and I still cringed). But if there is one thing my mother (and work) has taught me, it is that you can’t have too many great staple items in your closet. This might seem trivial, but the old adage of “dress the part” does ring true.
Working at a relatively laid back agency, there is no official “dress code,” but don’t let that fool you. I can assure you, your boss isn’t wearing mini skirts better fit for a night downtown. My rule: if you would have been called out for wearing it in high school, or wouldn’t be seen wearing it in church, it goes back in the closet.
3. Put effort into defining your own path
Yes, you are in your twenties. No you will not have the next five years figured out, but if you don’t at least start to think about them, don’t count on someone else to do it for you. I’m a big believer in doing what makes you happy, but it’s also important to realize there may be some bumps in getting there. Simple hand written to-do lists are my thing (everyone has their own method), keep the day-to-day tasks listed, but also to make sure at least a portion of that is going to something larger than a deliverable.
Have you explored new ways to display that powerpoint slide you’ve created six times (slideshare is my BFF)? Have you taken a look at what your client’s competitors are up to this week? Have you asked someone who doesn’t work on your business day-to-day to take a look at your work lately? Seek opportunities to grow and improve, don’t expect them to land on your desk with a pretty ribbon wrapped around them.
1,095 days in, the real world isn’t nearly as daunting as it seemed just a short time ago. I’ve now had the opportunity to see friends start jobs, leave jobs, get married, start having little ones and the most exciting part of all? We’re not alone. It’s a big world out there, but an incredibly exhilarating one. Embrace each and every moment, it only gets better from here.