November 6th, 7 am, my alarm is resonating, my eyes slowly open and as I feel the strength to turn up and step out of bed I land on a pulsating pain on my heels. Nothing specifically wrong other than being confined to stiff dress shoes with a weak memory foam pad. I get moving and changed to meet my boss for our post-conference meetings.
I’ll spare the details of these as they are just consolidations of the same evaluations of Conference arriving from different teams and perspectives. All good, see you next year.
This wasn’t done in the midst of my pre-cons, but I was able to summarize every moment where I felt there was a moment to improve: could we have communicated better, we proofed this program thirty times yet allowed a monstrous typo to rear its ugly head, why weren’t we able to staff “X” room during the bulk of conference?
I may be too hard on myself but I felt that these failures are unacceptable. Better practices must be implemented upon my return to the office on Thursday. On the face of it, the Conference with out a truly noticeable hitch. But I’m on the other side, I’ve seen and heard everything that was needed to.
You’re taught to evaluate campaigns in many PR classes, a dog is a dog no matter the breed and like a campaign, there’s plenty to evaluate, analyse and report on an event and what needs improvement.
There’s plenty of work to do.
I did not get a job primarily focused in Public Relations. By a stroke of luck, good connections, and a penchant for interviewing I landed in the Events department of a non-profit organization. The best part, our national conference was a little over a month away.
You may have spent a good amount of two years expecting one thing, but what you just got was a completely different beast. This is me, I had enough event experience to convince my employer that I am capable, but was much more trained and focused in a PR environment. Being flexible means accepting your role in a competitive world where you need to prepare and accept the opportunities presented before you.
Once here it’s time to accept that not every job is as clearly patterned for what you trained for.
In your team and your office, there will be people with years of experience within an arm’s length. Take advantage, absorb the information, allow yourself to be shaped by their experiences and advice. Remember to stay true to yourself however. I can say for a fact that there was not one thing that I did in my day-to-day that my teammates could not attest to doing at my age. I am very thankful for this, they offered insight and potential routes for best practices to be implemented as each unique experience landed in front of me.
You’re a month away, you need to take steps now to adjust yourself, be autonomous, but do not be anonymous. The speed in which you absorb information is imperative, take all the notes you can, save the important orientation presentations in a good folder and record all initial calls to get an idea of you are speaking with that may have an investment hold in the organization. Get it done quick, get it done right, ensure your success.
One of the very unique dynamics in working a conference in a different city from your office is the rush of members to the area. Let’s talk about what happens when main office meets its stakeholders, members, and the city that is hosting you.
Being a young adult in my first professional job, you forget that your fellow coworkers usually are eyeing a spot at the bar after 14 hours of long work. There are some handy tips that come with trying to unwind at the end of a day and also remain as professional as possible in the eyes of your colleagues, and the veiled eyes of those around us.
You Are Not Done Working
You may not be needed until tomorrow, but you must remember to be functional tomorrow. Binge drinking in a foreign city with a bunch of people you’ve spent the entire day with sounds awfully appealing, but walking back into your position the morning after with a hangover is an unsightly proposition and a devil you do not want to dance with. You will not only be physically limited, but your capacity for thought is severely rendered and performance threatening.
You are confined to a small radius, people are watching, keep things quiet, enjoy a couple to unwind and give you a moment to recharge but don’t act like its your birthday, your friends birthday, or anyone’s birthday for that matter.
The first words from my new supervisor were “Be ready to travel, welcome to events.” What I took as an invitation for a potentially great moment should have been heeded for a warning. The naivete in me made the mistake of expecting this to be half work half vacation.
Fifteen, This was my average amount of hours worked once I landed in Seattle. When working events, you see all your young coordination of things come to life: prints ordered, rooms scheduled, workshops and meetings planned. There is an adrenaline rush, and 3 cups of coffee, that kept me going every day, seeing our work come to fruition. That rush came crashing to you like a wall and you won’t feel your feet for a few hours.
The only time you will have the time after your work is done, usually by 7Pm -barring and formal evening events- to enjoy the city and by that point you are tired. Make it a point to plan your dinner wisely, do your research. I took my lunch break to do a nice Yelp check on what was offered nearby.
Congratulations, you landed the job, now what?
My first weeks in the office were not simple, but things were not over my head. I should note, that my first month poured right into preparing for a 3 day conference hosting over 7,000 professional and future professional engineers. What was I going to do and how was I going to help make this conference a success? Here are a few takeaways from my first month in the job.
1) Organize Yourself
The truth is, most of your working time is ensuring that you are organized. Getting all the pieces handed to you in a new job in a theoretically readable order will help to guarantee the rest of your day is spent productively. This is where that fun little tidbit in the bottom of your resume saying that you were good at Outlook in your internship comes in. Trust me, it’s about working smarter, not harder and if you think simply, everything else is. I recommend using Outlook to scheduling all your deadlines, ensuring you’re included on all meeting invites, and flagging important emails.
Bonus: Use the “Export to One Note” function in Outlook to quickly put emails into an easily editable format so you can keep track of the important ones and not waste your time.
2) Get to know your coworkers
Building relationship with your coworkers helps you and helps your organization. It’s a simple thing to do, but extremely hard for some to execute it. The best advice I can give for this is keep it professional, but don’t be afraid to get light. Some people enjoy the slight conversation, but these relationships are built over time, for me it took the length of time between my first day and the end of conference to fully flesh out the best relationships I have in the office.
3) Always ask questions
I cannot stress this enough. You will grow much more by asking questions, than assuming and move on. You must go into your job reminding yourself that this is not as simple as a professor handing you your assignment sheet and giving all the details in one quick scoop. Your manager will not have the same time commitment on hand and it is absolutely imperative that you prepare yourself to ask questions, good questions that show you have a grasp on the assignment but will need a final advice before truly taking control.
It may feel a little nerve wracking to ask, but never forget that someone was in your position one time.