I’m not a big-time account executive, or even a paid employee (yet), but I have learned a few things as an unpaid intern that I’d like to share with all of you career searching, twenty-somethings reading this.
This is also referred to as networking in the corporate world. The truth is, it’s hard (and nearly impossible) to get your foot in the door at your dream job without a little bit of help. Reach-out to friends, family members & acquaintances. Everyone has networked at some point or another to achieve a goal, so you’d be surprised how many people are willing to lend a hand. It can be as simple as forwarding your resume internally to setting up an informational interview with an industry leader — every little bit helps. Don’t be afraid to ask for help, or you won’t make it very far. And remember, the time will come when you can return the favour.
The truth is that no matter how much schooling you have, you still have a lot to learn. So, be prepared to be overwhelmed with information when you start a new career. The truth is, if you’ve been hired (paid or not), your superiors aren’t expecting you to know everything right away, but they are expecting you to give-it-your-all to learn.
Don’t be afraid to fail, because the truth is: it will happen. But, that’s a part of learning. You’re not perfect, and your superiors aren’t expecting you to get everything right on your first try. What they want to see is that you accept criticism and learn from it.
It can be really intimidating sitting in on meetings with my superiors. I sometimes find myself thinking “there is no way I’ll ever be able to formulate an idea like she just did”, as my boss sits in a creative meeting and magically comes up with a plan of action in less than 10 minutes. You will also find yourself feeling intimidated at times, but just remember: your boss didn’t start off this awesome. Chances are they began where you are right now, and through learning, failure and success they have gotten to where they are now.
Don’t think about how you are going to get to where you want to be tomorrow, but rather think about how you got to where you are today. When I began serving I was awkward, forgot my tables’ orders, couldn’t memorize a simple drink order, and was never asked to close down the restaurant for the night. Five years later I was able to memorize multiple orders, joke with my tables, confidently make a drink behind the bar and was offered the opportunity to manage my own restaurant. I never imagined I would one day have that ability, but it happened.
I sometimes shake my head when I think of maybe one day being an account executive. But, then I reflect back on the amount I’ve learned in these short few months, and I know that one day, I will get there.