Year One In The Working World V2

My name is Ryan Lovett, I am currently a marketing associate in the rotational program at Discover Financial Services. I graduated from Michigan State University in the spring of 2016 with a degree in marketing and a minor in sales leadership development with honors. I currently live in the northern suburbs of Illinois. 

What have you enjoyed most about full time employment compared to undergrad?

Making money! When you’re a student receiving grades instead of cash for your hard work, you appreciate working full time a lot more. However, the thing I enjoy most about full time is being able to have a job that I am passionate about. Making money is great, but if you do not enjoy what you do, it doesn’t matter how much you make. If you are at a job that you aren’t passionate about you will have a lot harder time being successful since you have no interest even being there. At my job, my work does not go unnoticed and is valued by all employees within the company. Having a sense of value helps me continue to work hard and be passionate at what I do. Imagine working 40+hours a week on your work and it is either ignored or not even looked over. Surprisingly, this happens a lot but luckily for me my company does not do that.   Another great aspect of full time is that I can decide what I want to learn and work on rather than a set, predefined curriculum. We all have been there, sitting in class wondering why you are getting taught something that you will never use… For me at least, full time has provided me the ability to learn constantly.  Every conversation, meeting, presentation is an opportunity for you to learn and grow as a professional.

What has been the biggest surprise for you now that you've been working full time?

One of the biggest surprises for me when I entered the workforce was that I knew “nothing”. I thought with two fortune 500 internships, a business degree, great academic success and hours of networking that I would come into the company and contribute instantly. Many young professionals want to come into a place and contribute as quickly as possible. When playing sports, who ever wanted to stand on the sideline and watch the game? However, if you think about only contributing without fully understanding your role, team or project, you are restricting yourself to the ability to have meaningful contributions. Of course you will have great ideas that you can contribute to your team, but if you rush to just contribute without understanding the bigger picture you might find yourself wishing you hadn’t spoken at all. A lot of times, business decisions have a deeper analysis and understanding of the situation before contributing solutions to solve the issue.  Even after working full time for a year, I still have a lot to learn and understand regarding the business as a whole. Although I have been able to contribute value to my team, most of the time I am just listening and learning. Understanding the business as a whole is important for your job function. Networking is a great opportunity, especially if you are a part of a company that has employees willing to help or discuss their teams function in relation to your projects or the organization as a whole. 

What challenge(s) have you faced?  How have you overcome those challenge(s)?

One of the many challenges I have faced is not worrying about others when it comes to performance. I, like many others, am very competitive in nature and want to be the best. But, if you are focusing on other people than how are you focusing on making yourself better?  I realized very quickly that to really be successful I need to worry about my development and growth to be the best at my job. Focusing on myself has allowed me to understand what I need to improve on so that I can strengthen my professional skills and abilities. People are at different points of their careers, have different projects, teams, etc. You are at your own point in your life that someone may or may not be in the same situation. Only you can change yourself, so stop focusing on others.  This challenge wasn’t easy to overcome but it has made me stronger and more confident of building my professional career. Another challenge that was difficult for me was producing work that wasn’t perfect the first time. In college, you usually write an essay or craft a presentation and receive a grade. In the work world, you craft a presentation and could go through many revisions before it is to the expectations of your manager. Most work you do will not be perfect the first time. Do not think that your work isn't great, it might just need to be improved or tailored to your manager's liking. It was difficult for me to adjust to this process since most work that I have done in the past didn’t require multiple revisions. You feel defeated as though you couldn’t adhere to your manager’s task since you didn’t get it right the first time.  You may never get it right the first time and that is alright. Revisions do not mean that your work is bad, but rather could be improved. Revisions can happen because your manager has a certain style, audience may be different, data may be more important, etc. With time, you learn what style or format works that pleases your manager that helps contribute to fewer revisions. Revisions are not going anywhere so embrace them as learning opportunities rather than negative remarks. 

What advice do you have for young professionals about to enter the work force?

Although you have probably heard of these phrases a thousand times, you should always have these on your mind when entering the work force:

  • Work Hard
  • Be Determined
  • Network
  • Ask Questions
  • Positive Attitude
  • Learn, Learn, Learn

Regardless of the work that you are doing for your role, you will be using most, if not all, of these six attributes every day. Most of the work that you will do will be learned on the job. It is very important to learn as much as possible during your time in your role, especially as a new employee entering the work force. Your first year will be important for you to work on your skills and develop your professional career, as this sets a baseline for your future.  My last advice is do not be afraid of challenging yourself, a process, or your team. If you feel like you can take on more work, ask for it. If you see a process that could be streamlined, then streamline the process. If your team needs additional help, step up and help. Being able to challenge yourself and go beyond your responsibilities will not only help you grow professionally but will contribute to your success. 

Where can people reach out to you if they have questions?

Feel free to reach out to me via LinkedIn or email me at Ryan.d.lovett@gmail.com.