In October of 2020, I found myself sitting in the library searching Linked In, looking for a job. Graduation was coming up in a couple of months, and I wanted a plan. Having spent the past four years in a small beach town, I was very comfortable with my daily routine. Waking up, spending time with my friends, going to my favorite local coffee shop, and then ending the day at the beach. This routine had me believing I had full control of my life, I felt like I knew what each day held. I didn’t want things to change just because I was graduating college. I applied to multiple jobs in that little beach town. I knew I wanted to stay because I was comfortable there.
I thought, what if I pushed myself outside my comfort zone? Force myself to switch up my daily routine and take on a new challenge. I realized I was going to be stuck in my day to day routine if I didn’t change something. I don’t think there is anything wrong with having a routine, but I wasn’t challenging myself. I knew if I moved somewhere new this would be a new experience to tackle. The longer I thought about this, the more tempting it seemed.
I continued to apply to jobs in the same state, in case I woke up and changed my mind. I didn’t want to be too far from my friends. I spent the past four years building relationships with friends who played a huge role in my life. What were the chances of replicating similar friendships in a new place? Then I saw a job posting in Virginia. I’d been to Virginia a couple of times, it never stood out to me as a place I wanted to live. I decided to apply because I figured, why not? I liked the company, and it seemed like it would be a good fit. I didn’t expect to get the job, and then I did! My emotions were all over the place. I was happy I got the job. Then the reality sunk in- I was moving to a place where I knew no one. I felt like I was in over my head, was my ambition going to crush me? I was nervous but very excited. The next thing I knew I was packing up to move to Virginia.
My parents helped me move into my apartment. We unpacked everything, and said our goodbyes. Then it really hit me – this was the first time I was going to be truly on my own. My emotions were all over the place. I was excited about my new adventure but beyond nervous.
I spent my first night reflecting on how I was going to present myself to my new boss. . I realized this was an opportunity for me to completely revamp who I was, become who I wanted to be. I thought about the type of student I was in college, and quickly realized that wasn’t the employee I wanted to be. This job wasn’t a place for procrastination., It wasn’t a place for doing the bare minimum or just enough to get by. This was my first shot at an “adult job”. I decided I was going to make it count.
I went into my new career with the mindset that “everything is a learning opportunity”. Within my first week I was given a mentor and assigned multiple new programs to learn. I was familiar with some of the programs, working in them with measurable tasks in mind was very different. I spent the first couple of weeks being a sponge, absorbing all the knowledge presented to me. About a month in I was sent a PowerPoint to edit and turn into a journey map. If you would have asked me what a journey map was three months prior, I would tell you it’s a map of a journey. With the help of my mentor, and team members, I was able to learn new skills. I realized I was acquiring knowledge and skills at a fast pace!
The next challenge? I realized I would have to get comfortable with public speaking. I had to take two public speaking classes in college and present to other students and learners. I wasn’t nervous with that audience. I felt like I had it under my belt. When my mentor asked me one morning during our check in how I felt presenting the journey map I’d been working on to the stakeholders, I was hesitant at first. I’ve never presented something I created to someone at a senior level in their career. An Executive and stakeholder. This made me nervous. I didn’t know if I was ready for it. My mentor reassured me I was psyching myself out. She told me we were going to practice and I was going to present this map I worked so hard on.
I went into that presentation nervous, but confident. A confidence my mentor helped me find. A confidence my team helped me gain. The presentation started and it went very well. There was only one factor that didn’t go as planned, but I made it through. After the presentation my team was so thrilled for me, we eagerly planned for the next presentation.
I’ve grown immensely since college. I’ve had multiple opportunities that helped. I’ve mentored people, led a team, and spoken to stakeholders. I never would have had the opportunity to grow if it wasn’t for my employer. I am grateful my employer values me enough to invest in me as an employee, but more so grow as a person. I have been introduced to the research world. I know the difference between CX, EX and UX. Put me in a room with any stakeholder and I can present whatever I need to. The new skills I’ve learned help me every day, and I’m still learning. My team members call me the journey map master. Ask me what a journey map is now, I can confidently answer, it is so much more than a map of a journey.