Tuesday, February 25, 2014

11 things I learned from my first post-college job

My stint with my first post-college job is rapidly coming to an end. Those of you who have been reading between the lines probably guessed that I've been waiting/preparing for this for a long time (13 months, to be exact).

But as much as I've wanted out this past year, and as ready and I've been to move on, ChartLogic has been good to me and for me. When I started just over three years ago, my boss asked me a stream of get-to-know you questions, and one of them was "What is the best thing that has ever happened to you?" My first thought was "ChartLogic," but I was too embarrassed to say it out loud, so I said something like "graduating from college" instead.

The fact is, though, that my first real job changed me more than my college experience did. I'm not going to miss much about my current job other than my co-workers, but I'd be doing myself a disservice if I didn't acknowledge what I learned while I was here.

1. What makes a good manager. I've had four different managers, in addition to being a manager myself. I've learned that the best managers trust their employees enough to delegate, offer constructive feedback, don't blame their employees for things that go wrong, respect their employees, and are assertive enough to make changes and/or stick to their decisions when needed. A lot of people will disagree with me here, but a manager who is also a friend is a nice perk.

2. More than I care to remember about electronic health records. I knew nothing about health IT before I was hired, and now people come to me for clarification about new government requirements. I'm not by any means the most knowledgeable employee at the company, but writing over 1100 pieces of content plus the user guide makes you something of an expert.

3. How to work with people. College tried to prepare for teamwork that actually serves a purpose, but it only partially succeeded. I was fine with things like delegating and dividing responsibilities, but I still needed a lot of help in the communication department. I would worry for hours (and sometimes, days) whenever I couldn't find a way around swinging by someone's office to ask a question. My fear of approaching people was a character flaw I thought I would always have, but ChartLogic stamped most of that fear (the irrational part, at least) out of me.

4. How to be a girl (more than I was before, anyway). City girls are much more fashion conscious than small-town girls. Even though the guys outnumber the girls at least 6:1 here, the girls rubbed off on me more. Five years ago, I would have been ashamed of this, but I've morphed into a new enough creature to recognize that it's okay to not just be a girl, but to enjoy being one every once in a while. I still stay far, far, away from stiletto heels and I refuse to wear a skirt/dress unless it's absolutely necessary, but I accessorize a little more now, paint my toenails regularly, can walk in shoes with a little bit of height to them, purposefully buy clothes that are a little more exciting than my comfy, conservative drab at home, and even wear perfume and real lip stuff sometimes. (I guess I haven't completely overcome my tomboyishness, because I had a really hard time typing out that last confession.) I've even practiced that chipper attitude that girls adopt when they talk to each other, though it's exhausting and I don't plan on ever being good at it.

5. Competence. I have a strong desire to be liked, which has the dangerous side effect of making a person passive and unopinionated. Gradually, I've replaced some of my "I don't knows" with "This is what I thinks" and I've used my mad negotiating skills (former manager's words, not mine) to get my way when I felt pretty strongly that I was right. Nobody likes to work with a know-it-all, but people trust you more if you believe in yourself.

6. "It's just business, nothing personal." I don't like it, but that's the way the business world works.

7. Progress is a crucial piece of my mental well-being. I may not like change, but I am extremely unhappy if I'm stuck in the same place for too long. I need to be challenged every once in a while, otherwise I shut down. The good news is that a lot of the time I have the power to challenge myself; I don't have to wait around for someone to give me something new to do.

8. Contentment with the person I am. I don't have a lot in common with my co-workers, at least not on the sales/marketing side. And apparently if you're a girl and you like books, music, and sports, you're a bit of a freak. Several years ago these differences would have bothered me, but I've since become comfortable with the differences that make up who I am.

9. How to feel at ease in the city. I have to renew my lease again pretty soon, and I was rather surprised how happy it made me to know that I don't have to move to another city (and not just because I don't want to move all my books again). I don't know when it happened, but Midvale has become one of my homes, rather than just the place I work and sleep in.

10. The importance of having a work/life balance. I doubt I'll ever be one of those people who saves up her vacation days for three years, or who is forced to take time off. I like to be busy and productive, but I also really need my leisure time. Since I'm a writer/editor and can easily do my work away from the office, it takes a lot of mental effort to leave my work and work and enjoy other things during my time off. But that balance is crucial to my overall well-being and sleeping pattern.

11. Hard work, dependability, and humility are what get you ahead. That's all there is to it, really.

Monday, February 10, 2014

To my crazy self

Dear 2012 me,

Congratulations. You've found a solution to your I'm-feeling-stuck-and-need-a-new-purpose-in-life problem: go back to school! You're looking forward to starting school in the fall with the kids, and I completely understand the nerdy thrill you get when your first book list becomes available.

But I think you need to think this through a little more. All that free time you have after work? Not such a bad thing. Having that kind of freedom after 5:00 p.m. every day is a luxury you worked your tail off during college for; why would you give that up?

I know, I know, you like school. Especially in your current state of boredom, school sounds like more of a luxury than coming home to emptiness every evening does. Plus, it'll be a satisfying hobby that will make you a more impressive person.

I get it. Dude, I get it.

But keep one thing in mind for me, will you? School always turns into purgatory before the end. Always. And this time, since you volunteered for this entirely on your own and were in no way forced or guilted into doing this, the joke will be on you. 


2014 me

Saturday, February 1, 2014

8 things I learned during January

1. "Danny Boy" can be a love song or a song about a father trying to accept the possibility that his boy won't come home. I prefer the second version, for some morbid reason.

2. Doing sealings at the temple is really awesome.

3. According to those Buzzfeed quizzes, I am Cinna (???), Charming (really?), Hermione Granger, Buzz Lightyear, an Idaho Mormon, and a boring human.

4. Temperature and humidity are huge factors in bread making.

5. I have a thing for basketball players.

6. 1:00 church isn't so bad. For now.

7. A good way to get through something you don't want to do (a.k.a. my teaching class) is to give it the least amount of attention you can possibly give it. You may have succeeded in forcing me to do something I would much rather avoid, SNHU, but I'm not going to let it consume my life. Take that.

8. Words of wisdom from Tyrel: "Reality seems like a nice place, but I wouldn't want to live there." I got through the month with my head in the clouds rather than by the seat of my pants. It's so nice to have an imagination.

Who else is happy that January is over? I have a feeling I won't be checking very many items off my to-do list today because this accomplishment—getting through the first half of the worst time of year—must be celebrated.