When starting this blog, I didn’t think I would recount my normal day to day activities. I thought I was going to post about this glamorous ideal life. Turns out, life doesn’t always work out that way. However, it’s been a great lesson that life is almost the opposite of what you were expecting. My first week of work and first work trip are easily summed up in the phrase: Everything is bigger in Texas.
Curious? Here are some of the highlights:
- 💭 Witnessing Texas beauty pageant
- 💭 Burning a hole in a shirt immediately after taking off the tags
- 💭 Learning not everyone has the same educational background
- 💭 Keeping the same stories to repeat indefinitely
“Toddlers and Tiaras” is real life.
My first impression of Dallas outside the airport started at the hotel bar waiting for others to get off their flights. It was the most exciting/overwhelming/mysterious 5 sq ft of my entire trip. For those of you who are new here, I just started what seemed to be my dream job in the sprawling metropolis of Atlanta, Georgia. I soon learned, my 22 years in the south failed to prepare me for walking into this hotel lobby.
The first shock to my system was seeing 3-16 year old girls running around the hotel in more makeup than I would probably wear all week. Needless to say, their posture was better than anyone I had seen. Everything seemed nice and polite on the surface but there was definitely a political structure.
From moms at the hotel bar to matching outfits by state, seeing all of these outfits changes made me extremely grateful that I only had to choose a carry-on bag.
Lesson Learned: You never know who you’re going to meet in the elevator. It may just be a pageant queen who explains what’s actually going on in the hotel lobby.
You’re not the genius you think you are.
I like to take pride in the fact that I made my prom dress out of a shower curtain. It’s always been my fun fact, mostly because it took so much time. So, leave it to me to accidentally mix up the linen and silk setting on the iron.
Within 30 seconds of taking off the tag of a new shirt, poof, it was done for! I spend a good half hour scrambling around trying to figure out how to fix it before chalking my destruction up to experience. You can now bet that I will never forget to check an iron setting before putting fabric to heat!
All in all, it became a really funny story to tell when figuring out what to wear. I took the lesson as an ego check for the week.
Lesson Learned: Invest in things that don’t need to be ironed.
What Would Olivia Pope Do? (WWOPD?)
I graduated with a triple major from business school. I was used to seeing different perspectives within the business school. This doesn’t always correlate to understanding engineers, history majors, or even other business students. Throughout the course of the week, this was the biggest lesson I learned.
Within these different educational backgrounds, each person was on a different level. You can try as hard as you can, but you will never know what level you’re on versus another person without good communication skills. Try as you might, you can only get the information another person is willing to give.
This reality check manifested itself within learning patience. I had to rely on my conflict management classes to help progress our team forward. Portions of our project were an exact replica of the group projects you hate in college. The difference is, there is no grades, timelines, or rubrics. At the end of the day, your goal is to provide as much value as possible.
Lesson Learned: Take a step back. Analyze the situation. Breathe. Ask WWOPD? (What Would Olivia Pope Do?)
Were you the person I told this story to 5 minutes ago?
When entering a new environment where everyone is the new kid, you’re going to repeat stories. Might as well brush off the classics from interviews and recruitment, straighten them up, and prepare the delivery! During your first few weeks, everyone only knows you based off your resume.
Sticking to the basics has definitely been key! I have roughly the same 5 stories I’ve been telling over and over in some variation since I was a junior in college. They’re starting to turn into the professional equivalent of Dad Jokes to those who are constantly in the same room. As awkward as it is that there are probably 3 people who could tell my life story that I didn’t’ know 3 weeks ago, I’m also learning their life story. I’ve also learned that they’re some of the greatest people I’ll ever meet. Bottom line: most other people are in the same boat or have been at one point.
When you start doubting yourself when trading stories with more experienced people, realize the common ground you have is that the company hired you for a reason. Most of the people at the company realize that, but not all will. They’re getting to know you as a person, not as a robot. The hardest thing I’ve struggled with has been managing the line between personal and professional. Not everyone at work will be your best friend but you also don’t want to come across as Squidward.
Lesson Learned: You don’t need to know everything about everyone on the first day. Just don’t forget your name.
At the end of the first two weeks, I’m still ecstatic about the company I chose. It’s definitely been a challenge where the only constant is change. At the end of the day, I don’t think I would have it any other way.
Are there other professional experiences or “firsts” you’d like to hear about in the future?