During Summer 2011, I started my first internship at Google HQ in Mountain View, California. Many thoughts raced through my mind as my start date neared. It was the first time in my life that I would live outside of Texas and would have a job that didn't require me to sell sneakers or mow lawns. Since then, I've moved on to Facebook and have learned a lot about myself, Silicon Valley, technology, and the importance of empowering people with tools to connect with the world.
Reflecting back on my internship experience at Google as well as my recent job at Facebook, here are eight life lessons I learned that have changed the way I live my life.
1. Be confident that you deserve to be where you are in life. Don't discount yourself or any of your achievements. You are where you are at because of all the time and effort you have invested. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise, if you ever find yourself doubting yourself -- please do yourself a favor and doubt your doubts and believe in your beliefs.
2. If you don't know the answer to something, don't pretend that you do. Knowledge is power. However, there will be times where you might not have the answer and that is okay as long as you are confident enough in yourself to admit it. Do not make up an answer when you are unsure. Let's not forget about a search engine called Google -- which, in a fraction of a second, can prove you wrong. In fact, acknowledging that you don't know can go a long way in building your credibility.
3. Work-life integration is really important. Success at work is not measured by the amount of hours you log each pay period. It is important to get enough rest and sleep each day to keep energized and consistently deliver the best version of yourself. We're given 21 days of vacation at Facebook, and everyone is encouraged to use all of that time; furthermore, because our workforce is remote, it's easy to work from remotely if needed. Consecutively grinding to the wee hours of the morning is not good for your performance or health, so don't do it.
4. Solving hard problems is actually not as hard as it seems. Google's mission is to organize the world's information and make it universally accessible and useful. Facebook's mission is to make the world more open and connected. These are hard problems to solve; however, by breaking it down into various focus areas, the problem becomes manageable as each effort is now contributing to the bigger picture. The lesson here is to break down big problems into smaller problems that are easily digestible and align with achieving the end goal.
5. Quality connections over quantity of connections. While knowing a lot of people can help you keep busy and stay in the loop of what is going on; I strongly believe that finding a solid group of friends who you get to know on a deep-level far outweighs having tons of contacts in your rolodex. So invest time with those who you "click" with most and be sure to keep in touch.
6. Speak up in meetings and don't wait to be called on. As a new hire employee, staying quiet and observing might seem like the right thing to do but you bring a unique and fresh perspective to the team. Speak up when it makes sense, people will appreciate your confidence to share valuable insights.
7. Welcome feedback. Accepting feedback is of utmost importance to both your personal and professional development. Likewise, it is important when delivering feedback to focus on the issue and not the person. Instead of blatantly telling someone they are terrible at x,y, and z, communicate areas where they could focus on improvement. This type of delivery negates tension and leads to more effective and positive results.
8. Don't forget to live in the moment and reflect on the present. Working for top companies such as Facebook and Google can be intimidating and stressful; however, it is a good practice to be mindful and aware of your current situation to really soak it all in and cherish it.
Thank you for taking the time to read my post, I truly do appreciate it. Please feel free to comment below with your thoughts and share if you think others in your network would find this of value.