It's been rolling around in my head and my drafts folder for months. I recently got promoted at work and got pretty introspective about what it's taken to get here. I've caught myself telling friends and coworkers lately, "I wish I understood at 22 XXX." Or, "Someone should have told me that XXX." I probably wouldn't have listened, but at least I would have known.
|We visited the Cadillac Ranch|
in Amarillo, Texas, circa 2007
|Katie and I during the |
Quidditch trip, 2011
Don't apologize unless you're actually sorry. It's a tendency women have to say, "I'm sorry, can you hold the elevator," or "I can't make it, I'm sorry." Stop. You're not actually sorry. It just makes you sound like a push over.
Keep the treats at home. This was a toughy. I love baking, particularly cookies and desserts, but much more than two people need to be eat. You want to be known for your work, not for your famous chocolate chip cookie recipe. If it's a potluck, fine, but don't fall into the habit of bringing stuff just because you have leftovers. Otherwise, it transforms the way people view you in the workplace into something more maternal and homebody than a professional persona can handle.
It's not bragging if you can back it up. Be your own champion. In status meetings, let people know what you're working on. Never pass up an opportunity to let people know you're busy, productive and accomplishing goals. Likewise, if you're not that busy, let people know and take on enough tasks to fill your time.
Start a paper trail. Keep a list of your accomplishments. I have a Kudos folder in my inbox where I keep congratulatory or thank you messages. I also have a Google doc with a running list of "wins." When you're having a bad day, it feels good to have independent confirmation you're awesome. Bonus, you can be proactive when your review comes around. Think about your areas for growth, provide your win list and "I'm awesome" e-mails to your supervisor in advance. Give them a reason to reward you.
Negotiate. Part of the reason a wage gap still exists is that 52 percent of men negotiate their first salary out of college. Thirteen percent of women do. Then you're catching up for the rest of your career. Do your research and know your worth, know you're awesome and be OK with asking for what you've earned. No one will give you what you aren't willing to ask for.
Save the tears for your pillow. Miss Abby had it right. Develop a thick skin because the first time your coworkers see you cry will be the last time they respect you. If you're feeling overwhelmed, frustrated, attacked, angry, whatever - take it outside. Go for a walk, hit the ladies room, sit in your car. Cry it out if you have to, but do it alone, pull it together and get back to your desk. Then start looking for another job. No paycheck is worth tears.
Start a Go to Hell Fund now. Today. Money does not buy happiness, but it does buy security. In grad school, one of my colleagues told me he always took his first paycheck and put it straight in the bank. When you're crying in your car or have the Sunday Night Sads looking at the week ahead, the psychological benefit of knowing you could walk away makes all the difference.
Be awesome. You're amazing, talented, educated, ambitious and clever. Just be you - don't try to mold yourself into anything else. You will succeed because of what you know and who you are. You've never conformed. Don't start now.
What would you tell your 22-year-old self about working in the real world?