Two “contradicting” lessons I learned in 2014

What a year it has been! – Just curious: Does every blog post reflecting on the year start out with that exact same lede? Oh well. It’s true.

Every New Year’s Eve a great time to look back on the past 365 days and see what you’ve accomplished and what you’d like to change about yourself. For me, I feel as if this year has carried even more weight because I graduated college exactly one year ago. (Taking the non-conventional route and graduating in a winter semester paid off, if only for this blog post’s sake.)

In the past year, I began an awesome career as the Social Media Manager of TheSpiroGroup, and one of its main clients is The Mid-Atlantic Sports Network (MASN). MASN is the television home of the Baltimore Orioles and Washington Nationals, and as a baseball lover, is there a better place to start my career? I’ve been blessed to work at MASN for the last four seasons, but this was my first time not having to leave the teams to go back to college.

And what a time to dive right in! Both teams made the playoffs, and the organization’s social media coverage was (and is) rapidly expanding. For work alone, I got to take trips to Baltimore, D.C., San Francisco, Kansas City and San Diego!

A piece of advice: If you have the opportunity to go into a career in which you’ll have the chance to travel, DO IT! What a learning experience.

After my first year in the field, I feel like I can sum up all I’ve learned into two main points. Bear with me, the two things seem like they contradict each other, but hang in there:

1. You don’t know that much.

Why, yes, I graduated from college Summa Cum Laude. Here’s a tip: No one cares, (and honestly, I don’t even know how to pronounce Summa Cum Laude.)

When your professors ship you out of their classes, they’ll tell you that they prepared you for the real world, and that you’re so ready to conquer your entry-level job like no other entry-level employee in the history of entry-level employment has. Now, this is nothing against my professors. They helped me so much over the years. But here’s the thing: Professors help equip you with knowledge, but when you leave, you have to figure out what the heck to do with it.

And figuring that out is not going to be an overnight process. From someone who was just there, you better go into that first job/internship with humility, or you’ll be humbled. Maybe you did more activities or got better grades than others around you, but if they have more experience than you, trust me, they know more.

Take advantage of the knowledge: Ask questions, admit when you’re wrong and put all the knowledge you’ve learned into actual practice (not just something for a grade on a project). It will be messy, but you’ll grow so much through it.

So for the second point …

2. You know more than you think.

OK, so this may seem as if it contradicts my first point, but trust me, it doesn’t. You do know a lot! You’ve been equipped from college with a wealth of information. You know new techniques that others may not. We’re Gen Y for crying out loud.

While the first year for you may be mostly a learning year, you also have a lot to offer others. You’re coming off four-ish years of straight learning. Once you learn how to apply it, you should be showcasing your new ideas and fresh perspective.

Often, I find myself selling myself short. I’m big on making fun of myself or exclaiming, “Uhh, I don’t know. You know better.” New Year’s Resolution: Stop that.

As this year comes to a close, I’m looking forward to take what I’ve learned and what I’m continuing to learn and transforming them into cohesive and intelligent ideas. I am capable of more than what I think right now, and I’m excited to see my thoughts come to fruition.

Here’s to 2015.

Olivia Witherite is based in Baltimore and is currently working on projects for PlayBetter.com, MASNsports.com and more. You can learn more about her career on LinkedIn and more about her personal life on Twitter.

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