What I Learned In One Year At A Startup

Achieving Goals, Career Discovery, Career Enrichment, Confidence
10/22/19 - Randi Hill

I started at Ama La Vida last October. I remember being an over-eager young employee who moved too fast and made a lot of silly mistakes. However, like most things, once I got into the flow of start-up life I really found my groove and have since exponentially grown. Here is a quick rundown of what I learned in one year at a startup and how I got to where I am today. 

October 2018 

Being fast doesn’t mean anything if you’re wrong. You can reply to an email in 30 seconds, great! Did you spell their name right? Did you forget to capitalize something? What about your call to action? Is it vague? 

People want to work with professionals. Misspelled words, typos, and bad grammar aren’t professional. I learned how to slow down and reply with intentionality and speed. 

My takeaway: Doing quality work is more important than doing all the work.

November 2018 

Persistence is key. This month, I did a lot of cold calls and I left a lot of voicemails. I also received the best compliment I could have ever asked for. “Thanks for being so persistent.” When you’re in sales, the reality is, people are busy, and they really don’t want to talk to you. However, when you follow up and follow up again, and again, you may just earn enough of their respect to have a conversation. 

My takeaway: If someone hasn’t told you to go away, keep asking. 

what I learned working at a startup for a year the first event I attended with my boss

December 2018 

As the weather got gross, we started working from home a little more. This month, I learned how to work remotely. To communicate over text/emails/and video chat along with staying in communication about what I’ve done and what I’m working on. More importantly, I learned how to change my space up frequently enough to stay productive. 

My takeaway: Your space is a reflection of your mind. Finding new ways to keep it neat and clean help you stay focused and in the zone when it matters. 

January 2019 

New routines help you create new habits and patterns. With the year fresh and a new office space secured, I learned how to create a “logging off” routine to create a cleaner work/life balance break. For me, no matter where I am this routine looks like shutting off my Slack notifications, closing my laptop, and cleaning up my workspace! 

My takeaway: Since most startup employees work long hours it’s important to create a routine that helps you step away allows you to bring more back to the team when you return. 

February 2019 

You are your best advocate. Have you ever wondered why you work the hours you work? Or maybe you have wondered if there is any way to not work those hours? Well, Friday afternoons are not my favorite. I’m always daydreaming about the weekend and accomplishing nothing. By leveraging my powers of persuasion, I was able to negotiate to come into work an hour earlier every morning because I’m more productive in the morning and leaving at 12 on Fridays before my brain slump occurs. Everyone won, and I get an afternoon nap every Friday. 🙂 

My takeaway: The people around you don’t know what you need to be successful unless you communicate it to them. Don’t be afraid to ask! The worst thing that happens is that they say no and nothing changes. 

March 2019 

You have the power to create your own job. I really LOVED doing marketing, so while I maintained a level of excellence when it came to my actual job, I also pursued side projects related to marketing tasks. Around the end of the month, I was able to transition into a more marketing-based role by simply doing a little bit of marketing work well. 

My takeaway: A) Similar to what I took away in February, no one but you knows what you really love doing. If you never talk about it, they won’t ever know! B) Taking the time to go above and beyond may feel like more work in the present, but it also proves you can do the job you really want. 

a few fun photos of me at work

April 2019 

April saw my second successful event planning endeavor leading to the event we all know and love, Weducation! I learned how to communicate, promote, and recap an event.

My new event workflow came from thinking about what I would like to know before attending an event. I like to be informed on how to get there, how to get in the building, where to go once I’m in and what to expect while I’m there. I also thought about spaces I like to be in, for me – those are spaces with background music and good lighting. Lastly, I thought about how to communicate further announcements, events, and resources after they leave. 

My takeaway: I learned how to think critically/logically around what makes people feel welcome, how to communicate and spread information to event attendees successfully. When event planning, you have to think 3 steps ahead of your attendees. 

May 2019 

This month taught me how to work remotely for a more extended time period while handling different time zones. I was in Pennsylvania for 12 days and managed to keep things going smoothly and make major headway on a few projects. Communication really is key! 

My takeaway: When you are working 8 hours away from everyone else you have to be thoughtful about time zones and communication. It’s always better to over-communicate rather than under-communicate. It’s best to remove any possibility of confusion/ambiguity.  

June 2019 

I spoke on a panel about marketing! It was really strange being the “expert” in a room. This event was a super special event because it was run and facilitated by a dear friend. I can’t thank her enough for giving me the opportunity! 

My takeaway: Growth is often strange and it’s awkward as you move from being the beginner to an “expert” or “thought-leader” in a sense. 

what I learned working at a startup speaking on a panel for the first time

July 2019 

New hires are the best. This month was about trimming down my catch-all job description and starting to let go of the reins of a few things. It’s hard to pour all of your time and energy into something and then let it go. You can ask Gabby, I’m not sure I’ve mastered this one yet! 

My takeaway: Delegating and removing tasks from your to-do list is hard. Learning to let go of the things we have worked so hard on is probably the hardest thing I’ll ever do. 

August 2019 

This was a big growth month for me as I had my first serious feedback conversation with my boss, and it went great. It just goes to show you that the worst possible outcome isn’t likely going to happen. Also, it’s okay to give your boss constructive feedback and to ask for what you need in an intentional and thought out way.

My takeaway: When you approach conversations with vulnerability, specificity and kindness even hard conversation are going to be well received and impactful. 

September 2019 

It’s okay to take a vacation. Like a long one. (Okay, maybe not that long.) Like a week. Take it. While you’re there, don’t open your email, don’t check your Slack, don’t track your Google Analytics. Just be because when you come back, your mind will be ready to bring about new ideas and solutions! 

My takeaway: When you unplug and chill your brain suddenly starts having all these creative ideas you didn’t think you ever would have had before. Here’s to skipping out on technology every now and then! 

what I learned working at a startup one year attending events with my boss

October 2019 

Leveling up isn’t as hard as you think. As a young professional, I have the opportunity to level up every day. Young professionals are sponges contained only by the amount of water we let ourselves soak up. When you’re ready to wring it out and make more room for new things, teach a workshop, share your knowledge, write a blog post, make a video, teach people what you have learned in a way that will make it easy to consume and impactful to know.  

My takeaway: What good is learning things that are helpful and impactful if you never share them? I’m making a commitment to share the things that matter most. 

Overall, what I learned this past year at a startup has been life-changing. The time here at ALV has been filled with opportunities, mistakes, taking chances and lots of laughter. Here’s to adding another year to the books! 

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