Friday, April 28, 2017

5 Things I've Learned from 1 Year of Work

Wednesday marked one year since I started my current job. This is my first "real job," meaning that it isn't a seasonal, part-time, or volunteer position, but a paid full-time job. So, making it one year is an achievement for me. In honor of that accomplishment, here are five things I've learned from my first year of work.

1. Life Is Fluid

Our organization changes constantly: staff members come and go, departments are reorganized, and roles change. Updating our organizational chart has made this concept really tangible for me, since I move the boxes around, delete lines, or add names every time there is a change...and there always seems to be another one.

However, our organization isn't the only thing that is fluid. Life never stops changing. Over this past year, I've had to adapt as people move away, friends get married, and my siblings keep growing up. (My brother is engaged now.) Change is simply part of life. I'm learning to embrace it, but it is a hard, slow lesson.

2. College Gave Me a Foundation

A couple of months ago, I felt like I didn't actually know how to do my job. So I started to do some reading: What do I need to know to become a successful copywriter?

The answer: I already know the basics. Now that I have read more about copy writing, I've realized that my study of writing in college, especially of persuasive writing, gave me the foundation I needed for my profession.
  • Know your audience and what they are interested in.
  • Know your purpose for writing.
  • Make an outline.
  • Answer all of the audience's objections to your argument.
  • Back up your claims with proof.
All of these items are essential parts of writing about your product or service in such a way that people will want it.

I have plenty more to learn about copy writing, email marketing, and free lance writing, but it was a relief to know that I have a foundation. I know enough. I don't have to be an expert right now.

3. Draw Benefit from Everything

Through a series of conversations with MAK, plus reading a book called The Intellectual Life, I started to think about how each project at work, each email to a coworker, and each meeting can be a moment to grow. Each of these, even the most mundane, is an opportunity.

This paradigm shift has been important in helping me to set and work towards professional goals. If each task is an opportunity, how is the task in front of me helping me to grow as a writer, a professional, or as a human being? Something good can be drawn from it.

4. Do Nice Things for People. (They Notice.)

This lesson is self explanatory, but I'll give you an example anyway.

Last Friday, as she was leaving the office for the weekend, my boss gave me a nice thank you card--just because. Her card signaled to me that people are truly impacted when you go out of your way to do your best for them, whether that is through respect, good work, or acts of kindness.

"Do things for people not because of who they are or what they do in return, but because of who you are." -St. Teresa of Calcutta

5. Rest Is Crucial

Work is hard. Sometimes I forget that, because I am doing mental labor instead of physical labor. It doesn't seem like I should get tired, but I always do. So, rest is crucial to restoring my energy and refreshing my mind.

I have learned, this year, that rest can take many forms. Sometimes going for a run is a form of rest for me, since exercise helps my mind catch up on all the things it needs to process. At other times, my rest takes more conventional forms, like reading a book or sleeping in on the weekend. I need to do these things, because rest gives me the refreshment and perspective I need before I focus on my work again.

These are just a few of the things I've learned from my work this year. What has your work taught you?


  1. Congratulations on this first year of work! These are great lessons. I particularly love what you noted about college giving a foundation-there were some times in the months after graduation when I would feel discouraged as I looked into freelance jobs, because I felt intimidated since some of the jobs were not specific areas that I learned in college. But, you're absolutely right-college gave us a strong foundation, and we can learn to apply that knowledge in different, specific ways!

  2. Thanks, Anne Marie! I am so glad to have passed that milestone.
    I can relate to being intimidated by freelance jobs. Sometimes they have huge qualifications! But I realized the other day that copywriting is really just RHETORIC! Haha. Ethos, pathos, and logos are part of every piece of persuasive writing, although that looks a little different than formal rhetoric in the daily nitty gritty of writing jobs. Anyways...