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To The Strong Woman Starting Her First Job

It was the last day at my first “big kid” job.

I didn’t sleep much the night before my first day, and I didn't sleep much the night before my last day. This time it wasn't the nerves keeping me awake, but thoughts swirling in my head.

I applied for this job on a whim because I felt poor one night in grad school. I did my first-round interview in a grocery store parking lot because I really didn’t care about getting this job. I was just going to practice interviewing is what I told myself. But they made an offer I couldn’t refuse, and so the story goes.

I’ve had several great mentors throughout my career, but no one offered me advice before my first day on the job. Here’s what I would tell anyone (mainly strong women with more of an introverted personality working in ag marketing) starting their first “big kid” job:

  • You don’t know as much as you think you do. Your BS and MBA mean nothing besides the fact that you stuck it out and got a piece of paper. Theories are simply theories and don’t account for the intricate ways people behave in the real world.

  • People like people better than they like robots. You have a personality, so let it shine. Tell jokes and invest in your coworkers. A few might become great friends.

  • You aren’t indebted to check your email after five. Controversially, you don’t have to have your work email on your personal phone.

  • There are mean women at work just like there were mean girls at school.

  • "No, I don’t have the capacity” is a perfectly acceptable answer. It’s far better to set realistic expectations than over promise and under deliver.

  • You will probably be the only female in a lot of meetings. When they pray, “God, thank you for all the men here today,” be sure and cough so they know there’s a woman present too.

  • If you’re invited to a meeting that is “too big” for you, don’t ask why. Thank the organizer for inviting you and find a seat at the table.

  • If you have crunchy friends, don’t tell them your paycheck primarily comes from chemical sales (that, yes, are sprayed on crops).

  • Pick your battles strategically. You can’t fight for everything because then you’re actually fighting for nothing.

Good luck, friend! The working world is a challenging place, especially when you are a bold female. However, your big personality will take you far. Keep reaching for the stars.


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