Most people stress out during the job search -- which of course makes sense and is totally understandable. When one’s life and future are on the line, it seems that people will go to many lengths in order to make themselves a better candidate for a job. Whether it's volunteering, networking, joining professional organizations or taking on more leadership roles to pad the resume, it seems that people will go to extreme lengths in order to make themselves a better candidate. This is totally normal.
When that first job or the new *better* job finally becomes reality, a sense of relief sinks in and we begin to realize that all of that hard work wasn't done in vain. It is an exciting time, and with many new jobs comes a grace period where you meet new people, learn new things, and gain your footing.
What's important to remember, however, is that even though you have a position that you were working so hard for, you should never stop volunteering, networking, or taking on more leadership roles. Just because you've reached the next step in your career does not mean that the learning and growing can stop! In fact, it is vital that you continue to work hard and keep growing as a professional.
Though I'm still what most would consider “young” and my career is still in its infancy, I'm lucky that I learned this early on. I got my start at the college that I went to and graduated from, working in a Division II athletic department in the sports information office. The hours were long – especially when I graduated and was offered a full-time position – but I wouldn't change it for the world. We were underpaid and understaffed and even though we had more manpower than other Division II schools in the country, it still felt like the work never ended. There were three of us on staff along with a handful of student workers, and we were tasked with working every home event on campus as well as providing coverage for away contests. When it came down to it, we knew that if we wanted to provide the best quality content, we had to work hard, we had to work often, and we had to be willing to grow. I worked in that position for a year and it was one of the hardest times of my life, but regardless of the hours and time spent, I’m so thankful for my experience. I learned a ton about working in this industry and working on a team, but what I gained most was an intangible: I learned that to be THE best, I need to continue to grow and learn.
Throughout the past year working at the University of Michigan, this understanding has helped me so much. My experience in Division II has given me the perspective to know that when a team works together, we can achieve so much. And teamwork doesn't just allow for a better product! It also allows each person the opportunity to grow, learn, and work to be better.
When I moved to Ann Arbor for my current position, my husband was unable to make the move immediately and we spent the first six months of my new job living over 1,800 miles apart. I was living in a new place with no friends or family, so I threw myself into my work. I volunteered to work as many events as I could, in part because I had nothing else to do, but mostly because I had come from places that required me to work as part of a team. Some events that I volunteered for required me to actually put in work, but there were other times when I was able to observe and absorb what was going on. Having the opportunity to even attend these functions with my new coworkers afforded me the chance to ask questions and gain a better understanding of our department, our university, and Division I athletics.
Learning the ropes at a new job can be exhausting and sometimes overwhelming, but taking the chance to work other events truly helped me learn. I wasn’t volunteering to gain bonus points or pad my resume or make myself look good in front of my new coworkers (although *yay* if that did happen); instead I was taking advantage of the numerous opportunities I had to learn things that I couldn’t read on the internet or find in a book. Even after a year, I’m still in the business of raising my hand when people need help because every time I work an event (my own events included), I learn something new. With all of these awesome opportunities for professional and personal growth, at the end of the day, I feel confident that my resume is building itself.