An Advice to Fresh Grads {and what I'd tell my 20 year old self}

The year 2014 has passed by so fast, it's hard to believe the sun shining on me now is April sunshine. I woke up today feeling grateful, less jaded and optimistic. I miss a lot of things from my 'previous life,' a term we call our previous jobs. Jobs can take so much time and energy but it is what it is. I've always had the option and the occasional calling to build my own agency or do freelance work but certain things I know keep me within the bounds of the corporate world, and happily so.

Anyway. With almost ten years of experience in the 'real world,' as we called it, and because it's graduation season, I'm enumerating some of the most memorable lessons I learned, cried over and battled. I now know why experience matters in the real world because those four or five years we've learned in university is just the beginning.

Because tonight is How I Met Your Mother's finale.

1. Suit up. Of course, I don't mean it to be a literal three piece kind of suit {though that will be nice, too} but always, always, dressing up for the part. I frown upon the days I felt too lazy to wear proper heels or crisp white shirts and insisted on my teenybopper dresses when I was 22. Dress the part you want --- not the one that you have but never forget to be appropriate. Underdress when you need to, is a hard lesson I've only learned recently.

2. There's no task too menial for you, or anyone. When you finally arrive in your later years, where your responsibility is to look at big chunks of data, or fixing a deal that had gone awry, or you need to let someone go, you will look at your 'menial job' years and wish you just sealed envelopes for a living.

3. If you're not getting that promotion,

a) you need to ask for it b) you need to work harder c) you need to get it somewhere else aka jump ship. I hear this from youngsters all the time and I wish I had the heart to squash their entitlement dreams but promotions are not given to someone just because one graduated top of his class or because one stayed in the office for 12 hours for six months. There's no hard and fast rules and certainly no formula but I do know that it involves hard work.

4. Speaking of hard work, work will break you. It will challenge you what you know about the world, about what you know about yourself, your values. Be sure to know who you truly are, what's the line you will not cross and what you're willing to compromise on. I've spent some moments in my life inside a private bathroom just so I can cry my eyes out, dry them and re-apply makeup to look like nothing happened. #truestory

5. Learn, Un-learn, Re-learn. One of the greatest things I felt that happened to me when I moved from the financial services sector to the fast moving consumer goods industry was that not all that I knew after seven years of experience were important now, some have been challenged, too. I was learning on the fly every day and often at the end of the day, my mind would be so exhausted with all the data I was learning every day.

6. Having a corporate job is a lot like marriage. I don't know how credible I am with that since I'm not yet married but having a job doesn't mean you should always like it. There will be days that the approach is normal, even boring, and it feels so familiar, so normal. There will be days that it's exciting and kilig, and then there will be days when you're learning so much. Most days, your choices will be weighed against a job and most of those, your job will be your foremost choice. Unlike a marriage though, one can always choose to walk away, when time comes.

7. Getting friends at work is only a bonus. I was lucky that the some of the bestest friends I have in this lifetime are ones I met at work but I was naive for thinking it happens all the time. When you find yourself worried if you'll ever make friends at work {like I was}, know that it doesn't matter as long as you have friends, period :)

8.Choose your battles, sometimes that battle is with yourself. There will be days when you will want to walk into someone's office and strangle them. It's mean and it's true. But at all times, we must wring our hands and calm ourselves and think a hundred times before picking that fight. Fight yourself if you must but think, think, think before you blurt out words you can't take back {or worse, that could get you a smear on your 201 file}.

9. Draw the line. I made the mistake of not blurring the lines between my worklife and personal life for so many years that when I was thrown into the fixed schedule of 8-5, I didn't know what to do with all the extra time. Now that my workplace is making it even shorter {half day every Friday!}, I would even have more time! Well, nowadays, I'm happy to report that I draw the line at work and personal and make sure I use my les vacances very well. Weekends are sacred, too!

10. Make decisions. Should you call this shot? Shouldn't you? The mark of a real adult is not when she decides to don a suit but when she doesn't look at anyone for when she's asked a difficult question. It's when she faces a decision head on knowing she's the only one to blame if it fails.

Happy graduation, kids. Welcome to the "real" world :)
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