Tuesday, February 26, 2013

On Starting My Career

Part of my desk at work featuring super ancient telephone.

In May this year I will have been working in my current and first 'proper' full time job for two years. A year before that I finished university and had no flippin' idea what to do next. A few stints of work experience and an incredible internship in NYC later (still don't know how I managed to pull that off), I was back on home turf, broke and applying for 10 jobs per fortnight to fulfil my Centrelink requirements.

A month or two later I landed an interview with an organisation in Sydney who I'd never heard of and frankly, really had no idea what they did. I heard the words 'communications' and 'not-for-profit' and thought that sounded alright. I was sure I'd blown the interview and remember talking to Mum afterwards and saying that I really didn't know how I would feel if I got it. When they offered me the job, I spent about a week considering whether to take it or not. A conversation with my beautiful grandpa changed my mind. He told me to think of this as just one small part of my career and that any opportunity was a good one and that I would look back on this time in my life and appreciate the experience I had been given.
About half of my belongings packed into my car when I moved to Sydney (and Ben being a creep).

Eventually I was packing my life up into my tiny car and heading down the freeway to my new home - a shoebox bedroom in a very old apartment in North Sydney with a severely water damaged ceiling (I was blinded by the incredible view of Sydney harbour - still miss that view!). Once again I was leaving Ben behind to pursue something new and terrifying.

I have always been a nervous wreck when starting new jobs. When I worked in a coffee shop after finishing school, my boss asked me to make her a latte so she could see how I was going. My hands were visibly shaking and she had to tell me to relax - such a horrible memory! Thankfully, when I started my current job, I'd had my internship in NYC to kind of ease me into professional working life, but it's still a weird experience. Every new person you meet (outside of your immediate colleagues) wants to know 'where you were before'. You're introduced to this new thing called 'KPIs' and you're now expected to sign off all your emails with 'Kind regards' instead of 'xo :)'.
The amazing view from my first apartment in Sydney.

In my job I have a lot of interaction with external people due to the nature of what we do. We have a lot of events and meetings which means I'm often chatting with people much older than me, with many more years of experience and in very senior roles. This has the potential to be very intimidating, if I let it. At an event a few months ago I was chatting to a group of women who asked me how old I was and when I told them they said I was 'just a child'.

I've learnt that I can't let my age or my perceptions of my abilities get in the way of doing my job well. I'm finally at the point where I feel like I have some good ideas to contribute and that they will be beneficial for the business. Realising that you're not just some uni graduate but someone who can actually contribute in a professional working environment is pretty awesome.
Being super nerdy holding a copy of the magazine I am editor of.

I still don't know what I want to be when I 'grow up', but from what I've heard I probably won't know for a while yet. Like with any job, there are times when I'd much rather curl into a ball and hide under my desk than make that phone call I've been putting off all week. But you know that experience my grandpa told me about? Well, I sure am getting a lot of it and one day when I'm rich and famous, I'll show those ladies that called me a child who's boss!


  1. Hey Hannah! This is a great post. I'm currently going through that excruciating Centrelink ten-jobs-a-fortnight thing, and it's really starting to get me down. I've been applying for a bunch of jobs I don't really want, which is the worst part, and I'm dreading that I will actually be offered one. It helps to remember that it's all good experience, and that I will still have plenty of time to forge the career that I want. I guess what I'm saying is thanks, it's nice to see a positive outcome out of all this job hunting madness and I'm so glad you're doing well! x Maddy

    1. Glad you liked the post :) I definitely know what you mean about applying for jobs you don't really even want. I honestly had no idea what the job was that I applied for and ended up getting. I wasn't feeling excited about it when I got offered it. I was just really nervous! But as long as you remember that you don't have to be there forever and that any experience is good experience then you'll be okay. I was lucky that I ended up liking my job and I'm improving my skills every day. At the same time, I know I won't be here forever but it's a definite foot in the door. Good luck with your job hunt and hang in there :)

  2. That is a very neatly packed car! I love hearing how people got started in their careers. That 10 jobs a fortnight thing sounds horrendous! I was so lucky just to fall into my first job (at a regional newspaper) and the second one came easily after. It's definitely true that it's much easier to get a job when you already have one! You sound like you're nailing it, editor! Very cool x

    1. Haha...I've moved quite a few times and I've always been impressed with my ability to squeeze so much stuff into my car. Definitely adding that to the resume. Next stop - world domination! Thanks for the lovely feedback :) x

  3. It's so awesome to hear how you came into your career. I'm still studying and it feels like its taking forever, and I still don't know what I'll do when I graduate! It will be another three years study on top of my Master's to do what I really want, and I wonder if it's worth it. The big kids world sounds difficult, it must have felt awful having older ladies belittling you based on your age. You go girl, you will show them!


    1. What is it that you really want to do? I say go for it. In the whole scheme of things, these years will be just a small blimp on the radar. I remember how scary the real world seemed when I was studying (and still is at times) but I assure you that once you get yourself out there and start working, it all falls into place much easier from there on in. Good luck! xo


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