Posted on September 24, 2015, at 9:00 a.m.
by Kristen Ellis.
What do a cover letter, a dentist’s chair and a spider crawling across the floor all have in common? They all have the ability to scare the average person half to death, motivated by an irrational, yet incomprehensibly real fear that’s almost palpable.
Trust me, I know. As someone who’s loved every bit of college from the moment I set foot on campus, the possibility of checking out in less than a year can be terrifying at times. I often find myself wondering what grad
school has to offer, or even considering taking a victory lap to “delve deeper into my studies.” At the end of a long day of filling out job applications and asking for yet another letter of recommendation, the possibility of leaving my comfort zone on campus to venture into another realm of proving myself can strike the same fear in my soul as thinking I saw a suspicious shadow outside my window.
For those of you like me, you feel, more or less, like you’ve got the whole college thing figured out. You’ve found the things you like: your major, organizations, friends, favorite hangout spots, etc. You’re happy. If you’re a senior, you’ve made it to the final stretch. Three hard years of late-night studying, group projects (sigh) and works cited pages. It’s time to begin preparing for the next chapter. “Yay!” … Right?
So, why does this transition often cause so much distress and anxiety for today’s generation of college students? Maybe it’s not so bad. Maybe,
somewhere out there in the dreaded proverbial “real world,” there are some things we can look forward to, some positive facets of “adulting” that we’ve overlooked all these years.
I asked four “fresh out the oven” college graduates what they thought. Read on and cue the happy tears.
New employee support
“When I graduated and found myself in the working world, I was pleasantly surprised by the amount of support I had from all levels of management in my office. If I was struggling with a project, I felt that I could go to anyone without fear of seeming unequipped to handle the task at hand,” said Siarra Swalve, public relations intern at Porter Novelli in Atlanta.
Myreete Wolford, new business and account management account coordinator at Ketchum Chicago, agreed: “As it turns out, professionals actually tend to have very low expectations for entry-level employees. Because they don’t expect much, you have room to learn from mistakes and have a bundle of opportunities to impress your employers.”
“I thought I would be overwhelmed with the concept of billing my time since I work in an agency, but I actually find that it’s a good way to keep organized,” said Kelsey Weiss, assistant account executive at Cookerly Public Relations in Atlanta. “For me, it helps make sure I’m on task, and it helps keep my day pared down to the essentials.”
She also alluded to the incredible feeling she gets after knowing she’s completed another job well done. “When you see results, you realize how much your work is making an impact on your clients’ bottom line, and that in itself is fulfilling,” said Weiss.
Jacquie McMahon, assistant account executive at Ogilvy Public Relations in New York, made my heart soar with this confession: “It really surprised me how easy it was to get involved. On my first day I joined Take 5, the social and philanthropic committee of Ogilvy Public Relations, and now I’m becoming more involved with Ogilvy’s Young Professionals Network and joined a PRSA committee. In Take 5, we’re currently fundraising for and walking in an American Cancer Society walk next month and planning a ‘Bring Your Parents to Work Day’ for 2016.”
Myreete Wolford’s response further drives this point home. “I went into Ketchum thinking I would be on my own, but I was dead wrong,” said Wolford. “My teams encourage me, my supervisors campaign for me, [and] my mentors enlighten me daily. They’ve made the transition easy, and as they explained it, ‘you are an intern and an account coordinator first to learn how you best work, to make mistakes and to figure out what you love to do.’”
College may indeed be the only time when we can still acceptably be in the process of “getting our life together” as we choke back some Ramen and guiltily click “I’m still watching” on Netflix — but what’s to come will be far more exciting, rewarding and invigorating than we can ever imagine. As I recently learned, it’s definitely something to look forward to.