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7 Things I Learned in My First Year on the Job

17 May, 2016

Hey you! Yea you–all you recent grads worried about what life after college will hold. Fear not, I was in your shoes just 12 months ago. (Woah, that’s a reality check!) I packed my bags to leave Bloomington, Indiana for Chicago. As I reflect on what has been quite an exciting first year of work, I’d like to share some thoughts on a few things I picked up along the way, and how they will help you become a more successful person.

Time Flies

We’ve all had the feeling … struggling out of bed Monday morning thinking, “How am I going to get through this week?” It seems like an eternity until the weekend. Since I started working and found my routine, each week is like clockwork and you look up thinking, “How is it Friday already?” They say time flies when you’re having fun …

Working at CEB isn’t all work though. We do like to have some fun too. We take office outings to baseball games, explore the city via trolley, and even have our Iron Chef event coming up. I also personally enjoy working towards a goal and competing with my team. My position is directly tied to our firm’s success, so that really motivates me to do well.

CEB in Chicago Start Class

Where’s Mom when you need her?

Living on your own can be a very exciting or scary time for recent grads. Good thing my mom taught me how to do my own laundry. In the real world, you may not have mom or dad to look to for advice all the time. That’s why you should find a mentor in your office who you can look to for guidance.

This person doesn’t have to be your boss, but someone you can trust and has a stake in your success. Everyone has bad days and I was no different. Having someone to talk to and keep me motivated when things aren’t going my way has made a huge difference.

Be Self Sufficient

Gone are the days of the syllabus telling you what to do. I found out early on that I would be on my own and responsible for my goals without much supervision. That being said, the goals are well defined and straight-forward, making it easy to plan how to get there.

It’s a much different feeling than school. My work now has a definite and visible impact on our business; and I know that if I hit my goals, our team will be successful.

Going Above and Beyond

If you want a quick and simple way to get noticed in your company, take on additional projects around the office. CEB has a number of ways to get involved outside of your immediate role. If you have interests in planning social events, coordinating community service projects, or even working with new hires, there is a committee for you.

These are called “stretch roles” around here and I highly suggest looking into them. I have found a home in the Learning & Development committee, where I help plan training events and help coach newer employees in various roles.

Sales Skills Are Invaluable

When I would tell friends and family about my job, they all say how valuable sales acumen is. Boy, were they right. It’s the little things too: being able to handle objections, making hypotheses based on data, research, and the discipline needed for the position will help me in any future job.

Outside of work, I am much more confident meeting new people. My position requires me to stay up to date on business trends and current events which makes a huge difference when networking. Especially with more tenured individuals.

I Love What I Do

I never thought I would say that I actually love work and mean it … especially in an entry level role like mine. I realized, however, that what I do at CEB actually makes a difference for our clients. My team is great and the office has a certain energy about it that I am drawn to. Plus we get to do fun things like make gingerbread houses every now and then. Check out my team’s (should have been) winning entry:

gingerbread house

One More Dial

In any sales position, your inputs immediately affect your outcomes. If you don’t put in the time, you can’t be surprised when you fall short of your goals. Situation: it’s 5:15 p.m. and half the office has already left. You’ve made 125 phone calls and nobody has even picked up. Do you call it a day? Or do you dig down for one more dial?

I was in that position back in January. I decided to go for it, one more. Sure enough, the prospect picked up, took a call because they were revamping their whole HR function, and three weeks later joined CEB. That one tiny choice to make one more call made a huge difference in our business.

If I can sum all this up into one thought, it would be this: Come to work ready to learn every day. Life is full of learning moments and what separates the successful from the rest of the pack is what they take from those moments and apply later in life.

Most importantly, have fun. About 40% of the time that you are awake every week is spent at work. So what are you going to do with the other 60%?

About the Author: Jordan Evans is a business development specialist in Chicago. He joined CEB after graduation from Indiana University and also served as a SPARK mentor.

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