6 Career Lessons Learned as a New Grad

6 Career Lessons I’ve Learned as a New Grad - Style Nine to Five

This past year has come with many challenges, especially for a recent graduate ready to start her career. On one hand, it has been at times discouraging and frustrating but on the other, I have learned so many career lessons that I will take with me into the future.

As I reflect, I can share them with you too. 

1. The opportunities that will serve you best right now, might not be your dream job, or what you expected them to be and that’s okay.

Entering my graduating year (2019-2020), I expected to look for and land a social/digital marketing role of some kind when I completed my studies. had no idea what was in store for me – but it certainly didn’t go how I imagined. I looked for jobs (and applied to many) throughout 2020, and while I was getting interviews, so many others were as well. Eventually, October came, and I submitted my application to Indigo to be a season customer service representative. 

I truly never thought I’d go back into retail (ever) after working in the industry a few years ago, but I find now myself working at Indigo. When I initially saw the posting for the job in October, I shook it off, but then revisited the subject. I had applied to a social media role with Indigo months earlier and have definitely taken an interest in working with them and so the opportunity seemed more appealing.

Indigo (and formerly Chapters) has been my happy place for a long time, and I thought ,”well it’s a seasonal role, it will get me out of the house, and I’ll be working in a store I already love.” You can read more about my experience here but I so glad I went for it and took the job.

Not only has it been great on a personal level, but I’ve learned so much more about customer service, as well as understanding marketing concepts in a different light. I returned after the holiday season and I’m just so grateful that I decided to go for it. I work with a great team of individuals who all want to see each other grow and win in our careers. 

2. Networking is really important, and you never know what connections will lead to.

Meeting new people, and building on your current connections (both personally and intentional professional ones) will almost always come back around in your favour. You might not know what that connection could to lead to in the future, but if you don’t make them, you’ll never get that chance.

 In October, through a connection I’d made a few years ago through a small business, I was able to land a freelancing social media gig. I had learned of the opportunity through a freelancing group on Facebook I had joined months earlier. As soon as I saw who posted it, I sent an Instagram DM her way and got that contract because we already knew of each other (and of course my passion for community engagement.) I could have never anticipated that experience a few years, but it’s taught me the value of making connections wherever I go. 

3. Everything you’re doing can and will work together to get you the career you want.

It can be really easy to feel like nothing is ever adding up to the career you want but that is likely not the case! As a recent grad who isn’t currently working a full-time job in what I went to school for, I know the feeling all too well.

I can also reflect on the last year and know the things I’ve done are all helping me to get where I want to go. I know this because all of the opportunities I took on last year were because of things I’d done in the past (or learned.) 

4. Never stop learning.

You may have thought that your days of “learning” are over and while you might not ever step foot in a classroom again, learning is always important. The world is constantly evolving, and there is always room to improve and be better at what you do (or want to do.)

For me, I particularly continue to learn about influencer marketing so that when I come across jobs in that industry, I’m more confident going into that application process. I also invest in learning how to be a better storyteller as I work to building a community through my social channels and for all of my roles I will have moving forward. It will also help me be a better team member at Indigo and provide a better customer experience.

5. Understand what you bring to the table & work on your skills because competition is fierce.

From experience, over this past year, looking at job descriptions at dream companies can lead to experiencing imposter syndrome, especially when I know how many people have applied to a certain role. I’ve learned that having the knowledge and skills, as well as confidence in what you can do is more important than ever.

Understanding and believing in what you bring to the table is key to finding success. For example, anyone can write that they have experience with social media – but how are you different? How are you connected to the brand in ways that others aren’t or understand the company’s consumers better? In what ways are you uniquely qualified for the position? This lesson is a journey, and one that you’ll always be on as you grow as a professional, but one that’s important to begin.

6. Understand your career goals and vision.

No one can understand what you want for your career better than you and understanding that is key to finding your dream job. Knowing your career goals and professional vision is what allows you to know the opportunities you should say yes to or even look for. It also helps you understand the connections you should try to make. As I’ve gotten clearer on my career goals – I’ve shifted the people I connect with regularly, the job titles I look through on LinkedIn, and the skills I work on improving. 

This year has been a challenging one – but I do know that my dream career awaits, and all the lessons along the way are all taking me there!

Looking to gain clarity on your next steps to land your dream job? Book a career meeting with Christie to discuss and strategize your next steps!

By Jenna Yeomans – Jenna is a freelance community manager and writer in Hamilton, ON with a passion for storytelling, creativity and supporting small businesses.

Feature Image: Adobe Stock