Thursday, August 01, 2013

If you had to give advice to yourself right out of college...

We have an intern at work who is just starting out in the world of work. (So she is, shall we say, younger than I am.) I was thinking about things I wish I had known about work, life, and the world when I was 22 (geez, I sound old) as we've chatted about career stuff.

I told her not to let anyone blow her off or doubt her because she is young. At my first "real" newspaper job, I was first assigned (as the newbie) what was supposed to be a mundane and boring beat. The managing editor hated my guts from day one (to give you an idea of the compatibility of his personality with humans, he left the paper to become an editor at a computer magazine, and I believe he's still there.) He even made a joke that if anyone had "any nanny stories" to pass them on to me. The towns I was assigned to cover were pretty wealthy, home to high-tech founders and retired football players, and they were considered "sleepy."

Fast forward a year and a half from the start of the job. I have a good nose for bullshit and I dug and dug even when that prick doubted me. Two DA's investigations later, half of the top administration in one of the towns had resigned because of alleged financial mismanagement and other mischief. The investigations, the DA told me, were because of my digging. One even went to trial and made national headlines.

The point isn't that I was the world's greatest cub reporter, but that I didn't doubt myself, and didn't let anyone else set limits on what I knew I could do. Not because of my ego, but because I worked hard and didn't quit when other people thought I should have.

Years later, working in advocacy, I see people who have years of experience in the nonprofit sector and other places we work with who have lost their passion, given up, checked out.

What is the good of experience without passion? Sometimes it's hard to remind ourselves not to quit or, on bad days, to keep caring, whatever our cause or passion may be, because of the naysayers.

How many of the naysayers have gone out and shaken things up? Changed the world, or the system, for one person or for many? Not many.

This doesn't only apply to people who lead movements. To paraphrase Greg Louganis, never underestimate the difference you can make in one person's life, even if you're not aware of it.

If you had to give advice to your younger self, what would it be?

18 comments:

DWei said...

Get motivated and ambitious sooner.

Birdie said...

I remember working in my first "real" job as a pre-school teacher. I was so excited and had some really great ideas. They were quickly quashed by all my superiors that had been working in the field for years. I made a pact with myself there and then that I would never do that with a person new to a job. So far, I have kept that promise. I always ask new employees (now I work in Home Support) about their ideas and plans. I love to hear their excitement!

OldLady Of The Hills said...

Very interesting....! I think a deep passion and commitment is so very important in whatever you do....!
I think I would say to my younger self--You can do anything you put your mind to, and always do something you love and believe in.

Lynn said...

That's so awesome that you didn't let that guy intimidate you. And that's quite an accomplishment - a story like that as a cub reporter.

I'd probably say to stay in college while mom and dad were paying for it. :)

Granny Annie said...

I spent so much of my career tilting at windmills which turned out to be stair steps to where I am today. A journey that could not and would not be traded. No regrets. Painful as it was sometimes I would set the time machine on repeat. Hopefully my efforts yielded an easier path for younger women to follow.

Cheryl said...

There isn't enough time or space to actually write all the stuff I SHOULD OF told myself. Thankfully, one of the bonuses of getting old is you gain some insight. I have been really fortunate how things turned out despite all the mistakes, missteps and "probably wasn't the best ideas".

Dexter Klemperer said...

I agree with staying in college as long as possible. But then again I knew that at 22. Kind of like your advice of "not doubting herself" my advice is that everything boils down to self-confidence (including golf, cooking and dating). You can be the dumbest person in a room, but if you don't believe you are the dumbest person in the room, you will win.

Charles Gramlich said...

I've always been filled with a lot of self doubt. Some days it's hard to get started because of it, but I am lucky in that I'm also very stubborn.

Abby said...

Great story!
When I was fresh out of college and starting to work in my chosen profession, I was not only a young 'un, but also a woman in a male-dominated field. I never doubted my abilities, even though I know that some of my "elders" did. Because of that, I kept a pretty low profile while getting stuff done. Eventually, I proved myself worthy, but my advice now would probably be to speak up more. There were good things I could've brought to the table sooner.

Betty Manousos said...

hi rt

great post and topic! one piece of advice i'd give my younger self it would be..."don't be discouraged easily." (i still am working on it.)

have a good weekend~

big hugs!

Lee said...

Oh! Boy! I'm going to have to ponder on this one a while...

Riot Kitty said...

DW: I can't imagine you NOT being either of those.
Naomi: Good for you! That's a very good point too.
Lynn: Thank you! It was a hellish few months with the trial - I got a subpoena and the SF Chronicle wrote about it.
GA: You bet they did, and we appreciate it.
Cheryl: Not enough space here either, true...but also true about insight.
Dexter: But then that makes you the cleverest person in the room, doesn't it?
Charles: I'm stubborn too and agree that it is a good thing!
Abby: Thanks! Good for you for not doubting yourself.
Betty: Very good advice. Nice to see you back!
Lee: I'm very curious what you will have to say :)

Riot Kitty said...

Birdie: I started typing and then accidentally skipped you. Good for you for resolving to be different. That makes a huge difference to people who work with you!

Geraldine said...

Have a plan A and a plan B and don't leave things to chance. Oh, if we could only go back with the wisdom that time brings.

I LOVE, LOVE your avatar photo. I'm a big cat fan myself. :<)

Riot Kitty said...

Geraldine: Thanks for stopping by!

A Beer For The Shower said...

To get a job, you need experience. But to get experience, you need a job. No employer will ever seem to understand this, though, so have fun starting off at McDonald's.

Riot Kitty said...

ABFTS: This is about as cheerful as the ending of the story you posted! (Which was well-written, btw.)

Lee said...

Still pondering...

I think I've got to much to say...so I'll quit while I'm ahead and leave you room to move! ;)