Throughout the past several years, the most valuable lessons that I have carried with me to a professional environment are ones that I have accumulated in different classroom settings. Learning the ins and outs of this fast-paced world is not easy—especially not as a young woman. The knowledge I have found the most beneficial can be broken down into five core takeaways: ones that have paved the way for my experiences in several higher-education and professional landscapes.
1.) Having punctuality and a sense of urgency are key.
In my opinion, this is the golden rule. It is something that I have lived by since attending a school for performing arts where I studied creative writing and drama. My instructor stressed the importance of deadlines, planning, and attentiveness to detail. Preserving that sense of urgency has aided my understanding of performance in today’s increasingly fast-paced workplaces.
2.) Time and task management tools are your best friends for organizing short and long-term goals.
I kept a planner to organize assignments in middle and high school, and in college, I began to use a virtual planner instead of a physical book. To manage my classroom and extra-curricular tasks this past school year, I utilized two organizational tools, Outlook Calendar and Google Keep. Outlook Calendar is widely used among professionals and students, letting them categorize important dates and deliverables. Google Keep’s interface allows users to create “sticky notes” to draw divides between personal and work-related assignments. I’ve recently adapted to using Microsoft Teams for most internal communication with coworkers, and this is especially useful for days where I work remotely. My supervisor, Kristina, and I use Teams to host weekly update meetings to discuss upcoming assignments and deliverables. I’ve used Outlook extensively in the past, but not in conjunction with Teams meetings, so I’ve come to enjoy that the meeting invitations automatically populate on my Outlook Calendar.
3.) Identifying your interests and seeking opportunities early on will benefit your career in the long run.
If you are interested in a specific career or industry, “getting your foot in the door” as early as possible may lead you to some significant opportunities. My interests lie in how brands can best identify their niche, communicate with their audience, and brainstorm digital strategies to meet their goals. Today, my interests in digital strategy aren’t just far-off, floating thoughts anymore—my internship has allowed me to morph these thoughts into day-to-day assignments. While writing website text descriptions or social media captions, I get the opportunity to adopt a consistent voice for Assedo online. I’ve also collaborated with the team to develop our refined social media strategy. To brainstorm ideas, I ask myself what specific message Assedo wants to send, who our audience is, and how we can best communicate this message to our audience across our social channels. My high school and college internship experiences have allowed me to “get my foot in the door” and it has led me to some unforgettable places. Simultaneously, it is imperative to acknowledge that not all individuals have the same level of professional opportunity. Massive roadblocks such as unpaid internships, discrimination, and harassment continue to discourage people from seeking opportunities early in their careers.
4.) Digital footprints and first impressions are more important than one might imagine.
I’ve learned that items like a cover letter, resume, or LinkedIn profile should always be kept polished and accurate—you never want to give off the wrong first impression to someone who has not even met the real you My mentors in high school and college thus far have placed colossal emphasis on these personal portfolios. They are just a few of the items that could come across the desk or desktop screen of a person who may change your professional life for the better.
5.) Last, but not least, never be afraid to ask questions.
Comprehending the full scope of a task is of utmost importance to me—whether that be a homework assignment or a deliverable for a supervisor—and asking questions always helps, never hurts. Assedo team members encourage me to ask for assistance, feedback, or clarification when necessary. An internship is a gradual learning experience, which means asking questions is part of the job! Reaching out for a helping hand takes courage and demonstrates all the good that can come out of transparent and clear communication skills in action.
Classroom knowledge and takeaways will always look different for everyone. There are endless tips and tricks to learn, but these five points have driven me to succeed in and outside of the several classrooms I have come to know and love. Implementing this knowledge into my work at Assedo has truly proven that a classroom can foster preparedness and eagerness to enter the professional world.