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Lesley Alum’s Advice: “Know Your Values”

[Editor’s Note: from time to time, our alums get in touch and let us know where they are in their careers, and how their life is going. Here is an update from Chelsea Contre, a 2013 graduate who majored in Communication. She has been living in New York for about three years, and works at Carat, “the #1 Global Media Network, and the market leader in digital and diversified media solutions.”]

In 2015, I wrote a piece for the Lesley Public Post with the blaring title of “A Lesley Alum’s Exciting New Job.” Well, three years have come and gone, from beginning my New York City career on the new business team at Carat; moving up to Carat’s parent company, Denstu Aegis Network; and now back at Carat to lead the agency’s marketing initiatives. In that time, I haven’t taken anything for granted.

Three years ago, my advice to college students was to find your voice and do what you love. But three years ago, I thought I knew all about life. I wasn’t entirely wrong:  you should do what you love, and that will ultimately help to create success for you. What I didn’t say was figuring out what you love can seem impossible– especially when you’re a senior in college. The stress of even landing a job straight out of college is enough to bear, and now here I am preaching about finding one that you LOVE.  Kind of ridiculous for me to suggest it.

Agreed, it’s never easy and it’s just like dating; you have to take some risks, and make some wild guesses, and learn from your experiences. Take the job opportunities that spark any remote interest; learn the aspects you enjoy, and equally important, learn the ones you despise. Also, learn what type of leader you want to be, and what qualities you want to avoid.

My first job was a camp counselor. Besides not wanting children of my own, I learned how to be patient and how to change my communication to cater to my audience, from the crying kid to the irritated parent. My second job, I took on the role of a wedding caterer. Looking past how horrible I appeared in a black and white suit that resembled a penguin, I learned customer service in its entirety. I mastered how to smile at some of the rudest people I will ever meet, how to dissolve hostility between two colleagues, how to multitask and time manage.

Skip three years and I became an event designer and planner. I quickly found out that being a manager not only meant managing employees; it meant managing time, resources and money, along with understanding the fine line between having compassion for your clients and making sure the business is thriving. When the opportunity presented itself to work in NYC, two years handling new business taught me how to be humble, how to work with and respect all levels of a company from assistants to executives; and I learned how to lead teams to collaborate, and push them to create some of the best work I have seen.

And while I was learning all of this, I was actually building myself as a leader; I was figuring out what I enjoyed versus what I had to do to get the job done. You’re not going to love every aspect of your job, but eventually these things you learn become your foundation of who you are; as a friend, as a partner, as a colleague and as a leader. The more you know who you are and what you stand for, the quicker you listen to your instincts; and then you can continue to work towards those career opportunities where the pros outweigh the cons. That’s what it means to find the job you love.

Long story short, my piece of advice is this:  figure out what you stand for and strive to work for a company where your values match theirs, a company that has a vision that you can really buy into. Whether you stay there for the long run or leave for another great opportunity in a few years, what you learn will become indispensable. Don’t lose sight of that during your hunt for that “perfect” job.

Chelsea Contre (second from left) at CBS Headquarters in New York, with members of Carat’s new business team.

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