Career Advice To My Younger Self
On my Timehop today, this picture below came up:
This, dear readers, is my very first desk I had as an “official employee”, five years ago.
By “official employee” I mean intern recently turned most junior member of staff, barely able to afford to put money on my Oyster card.
I took this photo a year into my job. As you can tell, I wasn’t the tidiest. I’m sorry. It’s actually quite a monstrosity.
The main thing I’d do each day was scan newspapers. Hence the newspaper explosion. And I took it very seriously.
The reason there’s a picture? I was excited and proud to have my own desk. A phone! A keyboard! The caption to this photo on Facebook is “my very first career Easter egg!!!!”. It made me smile today – remembering the sheer excitement I felt that day, to have a giant Easter Creme Egg from my boss. Because: the novelty! I have a BOSS! My boss has given me an Easter egg! I HAVE A F**CKING JOBBBB!!!
Anyway, enough gentle mocking of my younger, inexperienced self. I decided to give some advice to her, from my current position, five years on.
I feel like I’ve learned a hell of a lot. I’ve moved around. I’ve worked with very different kinds of people. I’ve come up against my fair share of seemingly impossible challenges. I’ve figured out what I’m good at, what I love, what MY JAM is.
I am constantly learning and growing.
Here’s what I can share to little-intern-me:
- I know you’ve only just created it but KEEP WRITING ON YOUR GOD-DAMN BLOG – TRUST ME ON THIS ONE.
- Yes I know you’re writing for free on the side, for a multi-million pound website, which doesn’t seem fair. But DO IT BECAUSE IT’S COMPETITIVE OUT THERE.
- Build up your portfolio of writing, anywhere, everywhere, whoever will take you
- Squeeze as much out of your day as you possibly can. Someone offering you to go drop off something to a client? Do it. Someone offering you to go to an event in the evening? GO. Is there a training session on? GO and bring a note pad.
- Ask your colleagues questions. They won’t be annoyed, just flattered. You know nothing; they’ll want to help you.
- When people say “they’ll introduce you their mate who could get you some writing work” – PESTER THEM, FOLLOW UP, SEND THEM FUNNY EMAILS.
- Tidy your desk. This isn’t your bedroom.
- Build up your OWN contacts. Keep them with you.
- Make BEST mates with the receptionist, courier guys, the post room, the people that make the building run. Without their help, you’re screwed.
- Do whatever is asked of you. Do it with a smile.
- Report that guy who jokingly says he’ll give you a ‘permanent contract’ if you “get your legs out and go to his house party”. That’s actually assault.
- You’ll still be mates with your some of your team in five years time. You’ll even go to one of their weddings. Some you definitely won’t ever speak to again. Either way, stay nice and professional.
- Keep in touch with people.
- Don’t get too drunk on week nights. You’re not eighteen anymore.
- Yes you are ‘lucky to be there’ but don’t let them take you for a ride.
- Take risks. Be bold.
- Don’t compare yourself to the other interns. You all have different skills. Be friends.
- Don’t show disappointment when you don’t get that thing you wanted. Show up the next day. Roll up your sleeves.
- Make your bosses job easier.
- In fact, make your boss look good. Actually, make him or her look amazing.
- Do the dirty work. Make the tea. Get the post. Pack the boxes. Lug things down Oxford Street in the boiling hot sun. Everyone has to earn their position. It’ll make you appreciate your more senior job later on, and make you empathise with other interns forever.
- Don’t take it to heart when people snap at you. They are really stressed. You’ll find out exactly why later on.
- Realise when a colleague looks like she needs a Starbucks and a biscuit.
- Say yes. Figure it out later.
- When you’ve done something well, accept it. Don’t play yourself down.
- When you get offered a better job – take it.
“In love with Emma Gannon’s Ctrl Alt Delete. So funny & smart, and reminding me of some of my own cringe teen Internet exploits!”– Anna James, former literary editor of ELLE
"Funny, honest, and nostalgic!"– The Debrief
“Emma Gannon is a bright spark of light in the world. I seriously dig everything she makes”– Elizabeth Gilbert, bestselling author of Big Magic