I’m (ahem) away from my office this graduation week, which is a great opportunity to share this guest post from author Amy Parker.*
Advice to the Newbie
May is the season of graduates, the turning over of new leaves, the quest for new discoveries. As I remember my same transition from college into the publishing world, I can think of a few things I did right, and several things I’d love to go back and tell myself. So let me save you a little trouble and offer some advice to make the transition successfully.
Break the mold. If you were born between 1980 and 2001, you’re already expected to approach new opportunities with a sense of entitlement. Instead, break that mold by applying a little biblical wisdom: “Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity” (1 Timothy 4:12 NIV).
Lose the ’tude. Maybe you had the highest GPA in the class. Maybe you needed help carrying all of your pins and ropes and stoles across the stage. Maybe you took all of the Honors English courses in Oxford. But for now (actually, for forever), lose the attitude. It gets you nowhere. It robs you of the opportunity to learn. And honestly, it makes you look ridiculous. You’re the newbie now: listen with two ears; speak with one mouth.
Treasure advice from veterans. They may not move as fast as you. They may have wrinkles and gray hair, but there are libraries of experience behind those crows’ feet. When given the opportunity to learn at the feet of a veteran, keep a notebook handy, follow her instructions, and treasure the decades of experience and the wealth of knowledge she is taking the time to share with you.
Keep your morals buttoned. As the ambitious newbie, you’ll be tempted—more than once—to ‘take one for the team’ or ‘help out’ a higher up or to ‘do it the way we’ve always done.’ Regardless, if the morals or logic seem sketchy, don’t be afraid to question it or just back out. It’s one thing to pay your dues, but quite another to risk your reputation. You know the difference.
Keep your options open. Writing healthcare education courses wasn’t my dream job, but it was my first out of college, so I jumped at the chance. While I was there, I made great friends, got free Starbucks, and had an über-cool downtown office with frequent field trips to the library and the Frist Center for the Arts. It also paid my salary until my dream job came calling a short nine months later.
Never underestimate your dreams. Being a children’s book editor was my dream job—or so I thought. It turns out that being an editor was only a stepping-stone to what I was really created to do: write. But had I known that from the beginning and skipped straight to writing, I would have also skipped all of the vital connections, perspective, and experience I gained along the way.
Follow your heart. If there were only one piece of advice I could give you, this one would be it. It may seem sappy and cliché, but it’s truly the only way to a fulfilled life. Continually evaluate your life, your job, your career. Is it going the way you want it to go? Is it making a difference? Are you making something other than money? If not, do some soul searching, and take one immediate step to ensure that you’re walking the path of your heart.
Congratulations. Today is the first day of the rest of your life. Make the most of it.
* Amy Parker has written more than twenty books for children, teens, and adults, including the best-selling A Night Night Prayer, Thank You, God, for Mommy, and Thank You, God, for Daddy. She has collaborated with authors ranging from New York Times best sellers to her very own son.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the brands, products, or services that I have mentioned. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”