It has been a little over 8 months since I started my job. In that time, it has been difficult to find time to write – until now. Work is a whole new ball game as compared to varsity life and it probably will take you some time to adjust to it. Hopefully it doesn’t take you as long as I did. Here’s my take on the difference between school and work and what you can do to prepare yourself for it.
1. Experience helps
The key difference between work and university is this:
You no longer work with theories or infinite budgets.
You would remember fondly of those marketing projects where you were told to plan out an entire marketing channel strategy for a product according to the target audience. At work, theories are thrown out of the window because there simply isn’t a semester worth of time to work out how you want to run your campaign. The lead time for running a campaign is shorter, and things tend to change until the very last minute.
The good news is, you will have a solid bunch of agency folk who are subject matter experts in their fields to help you out. As a marketer, you just need to be in charge of piecing the jigsaw puzzle together to form a coherent picture.
Another difference between school and an actual job:
Everything you do now has a real world impact. Each decision made has an effect on the Brand or the Campaign.
This applies to functions outside of Marketing as well. The moment you start your job, you have responsibilities to deliver against. One way to see this is to be bogged down by the weight of it. I recommend seeing it as a great learning experience. Each day has been great fun because I have been able to learn something new – Every. Single. Day. There are just so many opportunities to learn more about Marketing in countless aspects through the campaigns that I have run so far: Branding, Digital, Social Media, Customer Experience, etc.
Nothing beats real-life action when it comes to picking up something new. Which brings me to my point – if you are still in school, go get some experience!
My experiences from running this blog and promoting it through social media has been invaluable in helping me to understand digital and social media marketing. My Consulting Practicum project came in handy as well in teaching me what running a Campaign end-to-end takes. I am so blessed with a wealth of practice and training I could tap into and apply in this role from my various projects and internships.
Having a good context of how everything fits together in the marketing value chain will help immensely when you first start and find that you need to hit the ground running.
2. Learning on your feet
This is a tough one to teach. Most of us are forced to understand this fact – you will have to adapt to your job.
It might the work environment, your work load, or the nature of your work itself. Things are not going to pan out exactly like how you imagined, even if you landed your dream job. It’s not all going to be perfect, but it is going to be good learning, especially if you are just starting out.
Learn to adapt to what you are not used to, and look to see how you can help to change things if they are less than ideal. It might take some time and humility, but you will be able to find spaces where you can add value in!
3. Changes in lifestyle
Another stark difference between working and university life has got to be the amount of time that you have on your hands.
In University, modules are spaced out unevenly and you pretty much have free reign over the time you have between lessons. At work, you are stuck most of the time behind a work desk and computer from 9am to 5pm. That’s going to take some getting used to both from a physical and social point of view.
In my first few months, I found myself pacing around the office ever so often because I just could not sit still for too long. I needed a coffee every now and then, or just to get up and walk every 30 minutes or so.
In such cases, I recommend adding in an exercise routine to work off the restlessness and also to give yourself a change in view once in a while. I have started exercising in the mornings and it helps me to bring more energy to my work.
Your social circle is going to shrink…
On the social front, your social circle is going to shrink because it get tougher to meet the same number of people you have met in University. Life will fall into a regular routine, and most of your friends will be caught up in work as well. It is all the more important to make a conscious effort to keep up with the people you love and to schedule in time with them.
If you are anything like me, i.e. undisciplined at keeping dates, make sure you book your friends in advance and get them to remind you! A support group is going to help you find life outside of work.
4. It’s not just about work
This should be fairly obvious, but not always easy to do:
Find friends at work outside of work.
Does that make sense? This varies from person to person, but I have found that it helps when you can talk to your colleagues about other matters besides work. Making friends at work helps when you need help in certain areas and definitely makes for a less dreary work life.
This has got to be the single most satisfying thing – seeing your work come to fruition. I have run a few campaigns so far, and my heart still skips a beat when i see my ads at bus stop shelters. Just yesterday, an out-of-home TVC for my campaign aired on the big screen across my office and I just swelled up with pride.
When you love what you do, and know how much work has gone behind each piece of work, that is going to be the natural outflow. Enjoy it!
Well, that was a long post! I hope it helped, especially for those who are still in school. Have a fruitful career ahead!