Julia Schatz, Account Executive
This week, PR Daily had an article, “A Letter to my 20-year old careerist self about what really matters.” Yes, we all know hindsight is 20/20 and we all wish there were things we had known before we started this or before we did that. Yet, as people get older they tend to forget important lessons they’ve already learned. This is what I like to call “Peter Pan Syndrome.” As nice as it would be to never grow up, it is inevitable. We should grow and learn from mistakes but we should not lose sight of the optimistic (or perhaps naïve) perspective that we had as young professionals.
Inspired by this article, I wanted to write a letter to the 50-something-year-old future (and very successful) version of myself. This is a collection of thoughts, reminders and to-do’s to keep in mind as I climb the corporate ladder. Drawing from my own experiences at different internships and entry-level jobs as well as from many shared stories with my friends who work in different industries, these do not just apply to PR, but these “junior staff problems” seem pretty universal across 20-somethings. My father always told me that no matter where you are in life and no matter how successful you are it is always important to “remember where you are from, where you are and where you are going.” With this in mind…
Where you are from
- *Remember that everyone’s time is valuable. Treat it as such and be respectful of others time.
- *Think things through logically and practically. Just because it is the easiest way for you does not mean it is the best way to do it.
- *Don’t forget about the work you did when you were at the bottom of the totem pole. Appreciate those who do that work for you now.
- *Always say please and thank you, no matter how small the task! People notice when you do and when you do not. Actions always speak louder than words so don’t forget to show your appreciation once in awhile – buying someone a coffee may make their day!
- *Give credit where credit is due – even if this means giving others credit to your own boss. Similarly, do not place blame on others for your mistakes – take responsibility. Even if it’s not your mistake but someone’s under you, do not throw them under the bus – you are their superior so it ultimately falls on you to make sure they learn from mistakes so they don’t make them again. Remember, you were young once and made mistakes, you still do and will in the future. We all make mistakes.
- *Be open to new things. Remember that we all have different backgrounds, experiences, beliefs, opinions, etc. Together, diverse perspectives can create great ideas.
Where you are
- *Don’t be so focused on the future that you miss the present.
- *Always live by the golden rule: Treat others the way you would like to be treated.
- *Good communication will always be the most important and effective tool in the work place. People are not mind readers.
- *There are “mean girls” in every stage of life, including the workplace. Don’t be one of them.
- *Trust your coworkers and employees. They were hired because they were smart and capable, let them prove it to you.
- *You don’t always to have to care what people think about you, but you should always be aware of how you are perceived by those around you. It may be hard but you may have to make personal changes or sacrifices for the greater good of your team.
- *Middlemen create more work. Eliminate them whenever possible.
- *Never stop learning and asking questions! It’s ok to ask younger people about things you may not understand as well as they do. Right now, it’s social media, but in 30 years who knows what it will be…
Where you are going
- *Don’t become so consumed in work that you forget what is really important in life. Never let work trump your family or loved ones.
- *As Kanye said, “Having money isn’t everything but not having it is.” Don’t live beyond your means but don’t let money hold you back from experiencing life to the fullest.
- *BELIEVE IN KARMA. The more you have is the more you have to give. Be generous. Not just with money, but with your time, passion, kindness, patience, knowledge and love. It will always come back to you.
- *Stay true to yourself. Don’t steer away from your beliefs, morals, and what you think is right. Your gut is usually right so follow it.
- *Don’t lose sight of your dreams. Don’t stop dreaming. You are never too old to have big dreams, to travel, to learn, to love, to make major life changes. If you achieve your dreams, dream bigger!
- *Do what makes you happy. If you don’t like something, change it.
- *In your personal and work life, relationships are vital. Remember, usually when you need a friend, it is too late to make one. You don’t have to be friends with everyone but you should be kind to everyone. You never know when or where you will meet people down the road.
- *Always strive to do well while doing good. Do this for your clients, your coworkers, your friends, family and yourself.
Lastly, listen to Baz Luhrmann’s “Everybody’s Free to Wear Sunscreen” to remind you of other important life lessons.