My one year anniversary at Turnkey Sports & Entertainment definitely snuck up on me – it feels like just yesterday I was walking across the stage to receive my master’s degree. As the new school year starts back up, I feel a little nostalgic for college life (a fresh start, new books, new notebooks… yes I was a total nerd), which got me thinking: what are the most important things I’ve learned in the year I’ve been out in the “real world”?

Below are 5 tips I’d like to suggest to anyone in his/her first year as a full-time worker, especially in the sports and entertainment industry:

Consciously focus on work-life balance. This one is tricky, especially in our industry. However, I’ve come to learn that it’s important to use my weekends and vacations as true mental breaks (unless, of course, a major issue crops up). Many times, I was scolded by my superiors and coworkers to stop answering emails while I was on vacation. It was tough for me to learn to step away, but part of being a full time worker is making sure you have a healthy life outside of the office… which, ironically, often leads to success in the workplace.

Be a good teammate. Group projects in school are the worst, but group projects at work are a different story. Since everyone is working toward a common goal, not just a good grade, it’s critical that you bring your best to the table to help ensure a strong result: step up to help others in times of need, do what’s most needed, and don’t be afraid to lean on others on your team to assist you.

Ask questions, and accept that you will make mistakes. I still ask questions, even after being in my current position for over a year. I’ve found that my colleagues and superiors would much rather spend five minutes talking me through something I find confusing vs. dealing with a mess that could have been avoided after the fact. No matter how many questions you ask, though, you WILL make a mistake. Don’t beat yourself up when it happens – focus on figuring out how and why the mistake was made so you can make sure you don’t repeat it in the future.

Keep smiling. You are going to have really stressful days, you are going to make mistakes, and sometimes you may just want to put your head on your desk and scream. I have had plenty of those days where nothing seems to go right, but the one rule I set for myself was to always have a smile on my face, and you know what? My colleagues noticed, and it helped.

Never stop learning. Just because you graduated from school doesn’t mean learning needs to stop. Hopefully you find an employer as great as the one I have had that is willing to help you keep learning by encouraging you to have conversations with industry veterans, attend conferences, or sit in on online seminars and courses. This mentality benefits you and your company – when you’re exposed to new ideas, you’re able to bring more to the table.

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