Introducing our newest addition to the team, Michaela Bisienere. She’s a recently graduated New York City transplant, a chronic early riser and spends most of her money on concert tickets, tacos and buying herself flowers.
I’ve been thinking about My First Job for about as long as I can remember.
I fantasized about my career in the way that most “normal” people may think about their wedding, or the face of the person they’re going to marry, or the names of those phantom future children that might be running around one day.
Growing up, I thought about all of usual options — veterinarian (because I liked dogs and horses), marine biologist (because I liked dolphins) and professional figure skater (because I liked the costumes).
Yet, the one choice that stands out to me the most was that I was convinced I was going to be the First Female President.
But honestly, I never really had the desire to be President. For me, aspiring to be the President was the best expression I had of that ever-elusive and undefined something bigger. Basically, in little kid speak, “I want to be the president when I grow up” directly translates to “I want to do something important when I grow up.”
A decade or two later, at the age of 22, it feels surreal to have started My First Job — this abstract concept that has held so much weight for so many years, but never really felt like it would solidify.
Three weeks in, I sure as hell don’t feel like I’ve found my Big Important Thing yet — in fact, few things feel less important than being a fresh-out-of-college, entry-level employee. But more than anything, I can’t get over the fact that I don’t even know how much I Don’t Know Yet.
It doesn’t help that fresh, new college graduates are everyone’s favorite person to toss advice at.
I was told over and over again to assert myself, to ask questions, to be ready to learn as much as you can from every direction. I showed up on my first day, bright-eyed and fresh and eager — only to realize I hadn’t the slightest clue as to what to start asking about.
Want to know what no one really tells you?
No one tells you that the questions that actually come to mind during your first weeks of work are less groundbreaking Professional Contributions and more like: “How often can I email my boss before I’m annoying? Is everyone judging me if I answer a text message? Am I really going to spend this much of the rest of my life sitting in a chair behind a computer screen, glued to Outlook?”
If work anniversaries were like elementary school birthdays, late summer would be that one balmy spring weekend where it always felt like half the class was fighting over for the coveted birthday party slot.
It’s this weird chunk of time where everyone who just graduated college seems to be funneled into their separate paths, the last common “first” that many of us are experiencing at the same time, before being shot off into different directions by life.
And during this “first” there’s so much pressure to get It right. You feel like you have to be steering yourself, when most of the time it feels you’re just being pushed along.
Truthfully, it feels like somewhere between age 15 and now you blacked out and someone else took the wheel and then one day you woke up, blinking and clueless and ad-libbing your way through meetings and pitches and office etiquette.
And 3-weeks in, more than how to interact with clients, how to act around senior-level members of the company or what to wear in a “casual” office, I have started to learn how to be comfortable with feeling absolutely, utterly clueless, and enjoying the still-infinite possibility of The Big Important Thing.