Or second or third. Let’s be honest, these things happen a lot.
Meet: Jennifer! We crossed paths via social media before we finally met in person at my STORY event in March. She’s a young professional with awesome style and a list of tips that’ll help you make it through your very first professional job. I’m thrilled to feature her this week on The Things I Learned From!
Clients assume you’re the intern. Smile like you’re ripping off a band-aid and politely correct them. Try to avoid any nervous laughter and restate your title or position with sincerity. You might feel like a complete fraud right now, but give yourself time to adjust to your new career. Those nervous butterflies will eventually fly away and be replaced with pant-suit, martini-sipping confidence. If not, you can fake it with a pricey lipstick from Sephora.
Coworkers take you out for lunch and buy you drinks at happy hour. This is one benefit from being one of the youngest in the office and you should take advantage of it! Say yes to invites to lunch and get to experience free food at restaurants that use real linen tablecloths and smother your halibut in culinary foam (true story). But beware of the free drinks at happy hour. After too many sips you’ll reach a new level of discomfort around your coworkers known as…
Drunk karaoke. It happens, and despite your well-meaning intentions, it will happen to you. It was a balmy 22 degrees in Manhattan and I was warming up with a hot whiskey cider with my new coworkers at the corner bar near our office. One whiskey led to another and I soon found myself at a karaoke bar in Koreatown. After a disheartening rendition of Lil’ Wayne’s “A Milli” (who knew there were so many verses?) and a slightly better but still cringe-worthy “Baby One More Time,” I found myself walking home alone, suddenly clear-headed and sporting a new blush, not of the Nars variety, but of shame.
You go to work hungover. On mornings like these you stumble into the office with no makeup on and your unwashed hair swept into a bun. And if you’re lucky like me, it’ll be the day that the CEO emails you saying that he’d love to finally meet you in person. Who knows, it could also be the day that Oprah visits your office. Don’t let a bare face and bad hair day stop you from shimmying your way up the corporate ladder (or becoming insta-friends with Oprah). My saving grace was that I keep a travel-size bottle of dry shampoo, a comb, a tube of mascara, and a tinted moisturizer tucked away in my desk drawer for emergencies.
Friends ask you how you got your job. They stare at you with a glint of wistful longing in their eyes, dreaming of the day that they too will have a cushy desk job doing Important Work. And it would break their little hearts if they knew the truth—that you sent out dozens of resumes without anything but the whisper of a dying wind as your only response for months. That you felt doomed to constantly refreshing your email inbox and checking the voicemail on your phone as if such actions fed a life-crippling addiction. And then when you felt like you couldn’t take it anymore, there was a new message on your phone. That message led to an interview, and that interview led to this job. But since the truth is too much to bear, and simply shrugging in response would be rude, you smile and say you got lucky.
Jennifer Malise is a writer and artist working in NYC (like the show GIRLS but minus the coke-fueled romps in neon fishnet). Follow her on Twitter @jennifermalise for more bad jokes, photos of her cats, and occasionally, writing.