3 Lessons from Year 1 in the Real World




September 1, 2017 was my first day of work.

This day last year, I was getting ready for my first day in consulting. I was more relaxed than ever after a three-month vacation in Seoul but also incredibly nervous to start my first job out of college.

Fast forward a year later to September 1, 2018, I can officially say that my first year in the real world was pretty hectic. 8 months of consulting and 4 months of investment banking. 12 months of traveling, late nights, and hustling. It was easily the most challenging year of my life, in both good and bad ways. In this post, I want to highlight three key lessons I learned this past year.

1. Find satisfaction in your career


I think the fact that I left consulting after eight months came as a surprise to a lot of people. After all, I had started two consulting clubs in college and had done internships in the industry. I was surprised, too. I thought that after devoting so much time to prepare for consulting, I would love it, but I didn't.

Once I realized that consulting did not fit into my long term career goals, my enthusiasm for the job went down quickly over time. This started to affect everything in my life. Waking up in the morning was the biggest struggle, because I was no longer looking forward to the day. Every task felt like a chore. It also got me down emotionally. When I caught up with friends who loved their jobs, I was sad that I did not feel the same way about mine. I started thinking about switching jobs when I was only five months into consulting.

I am now starting my fifth month in banking, and my experience has been the complete antithesis thus far. I'm not saying that banking is better than consulting, but that so far I have been enjoying this job way more than I did for consulting to the point that it helps me to push forward even if the going gets tough on the job.

In conclusion, it is so so so important to find satisfaction in your career. After all, you spend most of your waking hours at work on weekdays. Your satisfaction in your career plays an incredibly powerful role in all aspects of your life.

2. When you know you have found your passion

I have often heard many people say that they don't know what their passions are. My boss once gave a talk about this, and what he said really struck me: "You develop a passion when you start to give a shit about something." An example he gave was about Olympic javelin athletes: "You don't just wake up one day and decide you give a shit about how far you can throw a stick."

You throw your first stick... but then you decide you want to get better at it. So you dedicate more time to practicing so you can throw the stick farther. That's when you know you have formed a passion for something. The point is you have to first try something.

This was similar to my experience in consulting. After working on a wide variety of projects in consulting, I realized that I was more interested in my deals than the other projects. I found them to be interesting and exciting. Eventually I started to seek more and more deals to be staffed on, and ultimately came to the conclusion that I wanted to dedicate my career to working on transactions, which led to a switch to investment banking.

Everyone starts somewhere in identifying their passions. It may be very straightforward for some people, but it is not for many. You could be two years into your job and not be "passionate" about it, but there could be one day where you realize that you really care about your job  not just for the sake of having a job and a source of income but because it fulfills you.

3. Determine whether your workplace is a conducive environment for your development

Everyone has different experiences in every firm, but you need to determine if your workplace is the right place for you. Wherever you work, you should feel supported and respected, and it should not be a challenge to find people who are willing to help you. If you find that isn't the case... that is a red flag.

Toxic people can make a friendly environment a hostile one. If you are taking all the right steps to develop professionally and people are stopping you, then it is safe to say that the culture is not conducive to your development and that your growth there is limited.

A lot of companies these days emphasize how great their cultures are. Maybe that's true, but be cognizant of the fact that culture really depends on who you work with. You could work for a firm that advocates a fantastic culture, but your team could have a completely different dynamic. Always position yourself amongst those who are supportive of you and your growth.

I hope my experiences can offer some wisdom, especially to those who are now beginning their careers. What are some key lessons that you learned when you started your career?

Thank you for reading,
Phyllis

No comments