This week, I am taking a bit of writer’s liberty and going an indirect route to get to my usual subject (etiquette and protocol), much like the one I took to find this career path. As part of The DC Ladies Blogtober, I am accepting today’s challenge and sharing “One Piece of Advice I Would Give My Younger Self.” What is that piece of advice you ask? It is pretty simple, “You do not need to pick a career right away or have a master plan. It is good to leave your options open and explore many of your interests.”
As a high school senior applying to college, I remember thinking, I need to decide what I wanted to be “when I grow up” and pick the perfect major to fit that career. So, I picked a career that interested me, I knew would be stable over the long term, and a school with a great program for that major. After a year of being “iffy” on my desire for that particular career and finding my supporting classes/electives from a different major fascinating, I had a revelation. On the third day of sophomore year, I woke up, walked to my advisor’s office, dropped all my original classes to completely change my schedule, returned all my books, and walked out of my adivising appointment as a new Human Development and Family Studies major. This decision often prompted people to ask, “What in the world is that and what are you going to do with it?” to which I replied, “It is a field in the social sciences that combines psychology, sociology, and human development to examine familial, couple, and interpersonal relationships. I am not sure which career I want to pursue, but I love the classes and know there are a lot of wonderful careers in this field.” That experience and being in classes I truly found interesting taught me the truth in the statement, “When you enjoy what you are doing, everything will fall into place.”
However, that was not the only big change I decided to make in the life I thought I had so well planned for myself. For some time, I realized I was not fully enjoying myself or happy at the university I was attending. Now I was faced with the decision of transferring or staying where I was. After racking my brain on how I could graduate early or study abroad and take a year-long, off-site internship so I did not have to be at school, I realized this is not what college is about. So, I started the college application process all over again, looking for schools with the major I had now fallen in love with and would not change for the world. Lucky for me, I found a wonderful program at the University of Maryland in the Family Science Department and even luckier for me, I got accepted!
Transferring schools and staying a Family Science major (with a Human Development minor!) were a couple of the best decisions of my life! I ended up in one of the best academic communities I could have dreamed of for myself and was presented with unmatched opportunities. I made great friends, joined the Honor Society for my major, and was presented with the opportunity to take various leadership roles. I hit the jackpot with an amazing staff and faculty who I still stay in touch with and who have given me several opportunities to volunteer in the academic setting as an alumna. One of my biggest accomplishments was helping to start a new internship initiative with Military Families. Without all of those things, I would not be where I am today.
Where am I post-grad? After two amazing internships working with Wounded Warriors and their families, I was offered a job upon graduation as an Event Coordinator for Wounded Warriors and their families. This was the job of a lifetime and I will forever be grateful to the Wounded Warriors and families who welcomed me into their lives, allowing me to give back to those who have given so much for our country. From my experience working in the hospital setting with Wounded Warriors and learning so much about medical care, I decided I wanted to give the medical field a try. For six months, I went back to school and worked as a Medical Assistant. Although I realized medicine was not for me, it was a worthwhile journey to explore an interest and also how I met some of my closest friends. Through my journey in medicine, I realized my passion still laid in protocol and event coordination with a focus on being connected to social service organizations. I took a job as a Protocol Specialist in Government and Military Affairs and six months later I started blogging!
It has been one crazy ride, but what I can tell you is it was all worth it. I have learned firsthand that your twenties are meant for exploration and it is OK to not have a master plan yet. This is something I often remind myself of when I start to question if I am “doing the right thing.”
Now, how does this indirect route of a career path lead to any type of etiquette advice for the day? To conclude this journey, I leave you with a few etiquette tips on success amidst transition.
- Keep as many connections alive as possible. Do not burn bridges.
- When you keep positive relationships with those in the past, they are more likely to want to help you for and in your future.
- Thank those who have helped you to be successful in the place you are leaving.
- Always leave a place/location, job, or career/educational field after giving it the best possible effort you can and being humble.
- Be honest about your aspirations, but do not discredit or bad-mouth the opportunity you are leaving. If you are polite and honest, people will admire you for pursuing something new.
- Help people from your previous location, major, or job whenever possible.
- Introduce Yourself, Do Not Be Shy!
- “Good Manners and Kindness are Always in Fashion.”
- Being polished and polite will take you far. Do not underestimate the power of a kind gesture, a smile, and being polite to everyone you meet. Remember:
- “‘Please’ and ‘Thank You’ are still magic words.”
- “Good manners are not something to be put on and off like a coat.”
- “I have never seen elegance go out of style.”
No matter what endeavor you are on, always put your best foot forward and you will be sure to succeed by leaving a positive impression. As I said in the beginning, you do not need to pick a career right away or have a master plan for your whole life. It is good to leave your options open and explore your interests. As Steve Jobs so brilliantly said: