Everyone knows transitioning from college to adult life can be tricky. With so much uncertainty in the air, it’s difficult to gauge which paths will lead to the greatest amount of growth and self-fulfillment. When I first became a “Vestie,” as we call them here, I had no idea this role would be one of the most challenging yet gratifying experiences I’d have in my life to-date. I’ve learned so much about myself both personally and professionally and attribute much of that to the smart, hard-working and downright fun team I get to work with, and an exceptional team of leaders who understand the value and importance of investing in young people.
Like quite a few Vested employees, my journey here started with the company’s grad program. It allowed me to hit the ground running and learn, create and expand my horizons with the structure and support that a lot of post-college grads lack and crave.
During my last semester at Johns Hopkins, I went through the dreaded senior phase where I was incredibly anxious about graduating and in need of a job. I discovered Vested through my university’s job posting website (shoutout to Handshake!) and before I knew it I was on a phone interview with one of my now closest co-workers, Emma Clarke, who also happened to be a graduate of the program. We bonded over the New York Times’ Modern Love column and I knew it was a fit right away.
Now that I’m a full-time Vestie, looking back on my time in the grad program taught me five, super important lessons that I refer back to on a daily basis.
1. Learning how YOU work: The distinction is key. Some people work best by writing out a to-do list by hand and others use Google calendars to set up reminders. It’s not an exact science because what works for someone else might not necessarily work for you. Currently, I use a Google spreadsheet with all my tasks and time estimates for how long it will take me to accomplish them. Turns out you can’t squeeze a 15-hour working day into a 9 hour one!.
This may sound super simple, but learning what I needed to stay on task, meet deadlines and maximize my time was a turning point in my work life. Through a trial and error process, my manager stuck with me as I tailored this system that ultimately allowed me to complete the grad program with more ease
2. Learning how to balance: It’s easy to let an entire day go by without standing up and stretching your legs. During my time as a grad, I learned that I need to get up and take a break in order to boost my productivity. You’d be surprised by the difference a walk around the block makes! It’s one of those tricks that seems so obvious, but often times, I’d realize at 5:30 that I’d hardly stood up from my computer. Forcing myself to take those breaks where I go for a walk, get a coffee, or even just play with one of the many Vested dogs here allows me to mentally reset and approach my next task with fresh eyes.
3. Being proactive: When you’re right out of college, it can be intimidating to speak up in meetings or voice to your manager that you want to be involved more. But the grad program really encouraged me to seize those opportunities and advocate for myself when there were projects I really wanted to be involved in–even when I wasn’t an expert on the topic in question. The teams at Vested are configured in such a way that there’s always a mix of senior, mid and junior-level staff involved and a variety of skill sets. So, if I wanted to work on a client’s paid social media program, I could do that and know I’d be surrounded by people with tons of experience who would be willing to sit down with me and teach me the basics.
4. Conducting research: This one’s a bit more tactical, but equally important. As a grad, I spent a lot of time understanding clients’ backgrounds, their company history, their specialties, and business needs. I’d then take that research and synthesize it for the team into digestible information relevant to our work. Doing this type of research not only taught me how to find credible and valuable information but also how to parse through what we don’t need and get to the nuggets that really influence our strategies and that ultimately allow our clients to make more informed decisions.
5. Finding great mentors: I believe all recent grads have a specific idea in mind when they think of mentors. They usually think of industry veterans who have been perfecting their craft for decades. But what I’ve come to realize during my grad program is that mentors who are in your immediate space – managers, coworkers who are more senior – will take your further than you’d think! My manager, Marian, and co-worker, Adrienne, have equipped me with everything I needed to succeed and it all came from their willingness to teach me the ropes.
Your first job out of college can be incredibly formative and eye-opening. I believe my choice to join Vested right after graduating allowed me shape myself personally and professionally around people who were unequivocally supportive and who wanted to see me succeed. The team here is sharp and incredibly smart – while also being fun and nurturing of junior level members.
As an associate, I look back in awe of how much I’ve grown since my first day as a grad. Vested has provided me opportunities that I never thought accessible to someone just starting her career, which speaks volumes about the beliefs of the firm and where it is headed as we expand and look to add fresh new Vesties who are eager to learn and be part of a brilliant team.