Truth be told, all the college in the world couldn’t prepare you for what happens in the “real world”. At some point we all started wet behind the ears and ready to take on the world. If you’re a seasoned professional, your ears are probably now as dry as the Sahara desert. After experiencing a few doses of reality, you start to collect your own life notes as to how you need to approach your career.

At first, it seemed like a great idea to think you’ll land your dream job, work your way into a long-term rewarding management role, and everything will fall into place as you build a family or travel the world—and find the perfect work-life balance. Fast-forward to the desert, the path is often quite different (you know… the path that doesn’t get mentioned during motivational speeches).

Here’s a few tough lessons learned throughout the journey of building your career.

  1. You may have a manager or mentor that loves you when showing you the ropes, but becomes your mortal enemy once he or she finds out you’re smarter.
  2. You often will know more than your manager.
  3. You often will do more than your manager.
  4. Being the best on your team means more work than those who suck and sometimes less pay.
  5. Speaking of pay, your mediocre colleague may make more money than you because they a.) Have been with the company since the original rugs were installed b.) Excel in “look at what I can do” pony tricks or c.) Know someone who knows someone.
  6. You need to send late night emails so that your manager knows you had to bust your butt to complete a project due to the poor planning of others (or else they think it got done via osmosis).
  7. There are times when management only wants you give 40 percent if it means being able to check a project off the list faster.
  8. Sometimes you have to back down from battles—not because you’re wrong—but because your sanity is more important than being right.
  9. You will have a day when you blow up because you’ve had enough and will feel so much better afterwards, even if you looked “bad” and get reprimanded for your outburst.
  10. The person who you thought you’d get along with isn’t always going to be your ally; the person who you initially bumped heads with sometimes becomes your business partner in crime.
  11. Building a strong personal brand will be crucial to you moving ahead in your career.
  12. You thrive as a professional not only due to knowledge and talent, but also by being a strategic thinker who has learned, and grown, as a result of the tough lessons.

What other truth you wish you’d known? Answer in the Comments below.

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Marietta Gentles Crawford
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Marietta Gentles Crawford

Writer + Personal Brand Strategist, Founder at MGC Ink
Marietta Gentles Crawford is a writer, personal brand strategist, and author of "From Nine to Thrive: A Guide to Building Your Personal Brand and Elevating Your Career." With over ten years' experience climbing through top corporate and government brands as a writer and trainer, her passion is inspiring professionals to dare mediocrity.
Marietta Gentles Crawford
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