People ask me what I study and what career I intend to pursue, often getting the response, “So you like to write.”
That’s what people focus on most, I’ve realized, when they ask about your future plans. “What do you like to do?” This leads young adults to think that is what it all comes down to: answering that simple question.
Well, it doesn’t.
Young adults not only need to ask themselves what they like to do, but what type of environment they work best in. Do they thrive in a crazy, chaotic, fast-paced workplace, in a quiet office alone, or something in between? Do they work better by themselves or in a team?
This summer, I did a journalism internship in New York City for two months. When I came home to California, I worked as a freelance writer for a non-profit organization, working in an extra, vacant room by myself. While both of these were Communications-related positions, the workplace environments were polar opposite.
I want to share some insight I gained so you can start to judge which occupational terrain you want to live in.
Fast Pace vs. Slow Pace
I can be lazy, so deadlines help me stay productive. However, there are different kinds of deadlines. At a news organization, there are a lot of short deadlines. Your editor tells you to write a story on the Zika virus before the end of the day and then later says, “Quick! Write a blurb about the latest Kardashian scandal!” The pro is this keeps you busy and feeling productive, but the con is it can get exhausting. If you thrive on pressure, you want a work environment that requires you to get things right the first time, and fast.
I learned that I work better with long-term projects. I like to write a first draft, leave it alone, then come back to it later and revise. Longer-deadlines allow me to breathe and feel like an artist. They give me freedom to take risks. They also make it easier for me to procrastinate, so if you struggle with self-motivation, or get bored easily, a slow-paced job is not for you. If you are good at self-discipline and like to take the time to get things done right, then look for a career that allows you to do that.
Loud vs. Quiet
Imagine all the employees for a company working in one room, with no cubicle walls to drown out the co-worker yelling into his phone. Imagine bumping elbows with your neighbor who, like you, is trying focus on his current task. That is a newsroom. You hear people’s jokes and laughter, but you also hear their frustrated groans and curses. If you feed off the energy and emotions of others, and you like to spontaneously start a conversation, this style will work for you. You will love the ability to talk to multiple people throughout the day, and seeing your colleagues work will motivate you to stay on task.
Noise usually distracts me. Though I got used to it, I still prefer my own space. Feeling the negative vibes from my grumpy co-workers wore me down. Sometimes being around people in general drains my energy. If you’re introverted like me, seek employment where you get your own office or a cubicle with thick walls. It can get lonely. If it does, get a lunch break buddy. I do not recommend an private office for those who need to feel a part of a team and that their colleagues care about what they’re doing.
The easiest way to find out what type of office space brings out the best in you is to go get different jobs or internships, even if it’s not in the field you want to go into. See if working in the environment jives with you. In the meantime, I hope this article helped.
By Creela Belle Howard