No, I’m not talking about a 1952 Mickey Mantle card from a pack of gum. I’m talking about the moment you got your first business card. Do you remember that moment?
I do. I had just finished five years in graduate school. I was 26 years old and had just moved to the big city for the first time. I remember the first day so vividly. I got up and got myself into a suit for about the third time in my life. As I opened my front door, I was met by a bouquet of roses with a card welcoming me to the firm—wow.
I arrived at the office tower and walked through the marble lobby and into the elevator with the tapestries on the walls (a far cry from the chipped orange paint in the industrial elevator in the Psych Building).
As the elevator doors opened on the 8th floor, I was greeted by the office administrator who showed me to my desk. I instinctively pulled out the top drawer and nearly fell over when I found it fully stocked with pens, pencils, a ruler, and even my very own stapler. (I later phoned my husband to tell him that I had arrived. We had been in graduate school together and were accustomed to the drill of signing to get a single pen or pad of paper.)
But more than the uncomfortable suit, more than the stapler in the drawer, the one thing that told me I was now a grown-up was that business card. I was for real. I was a professional and people were going to pay for my advice. The world was my oyster. Do you remember that feeling?
When was that last time you felt like that?
It seems almost impossible to recapture that naïve optimism about work now.
For me, the clues that things would not be all staplers and roses came in the first hour. As soon as the office administrator left my cubicle, someone warned me to stay on her good side—or else. It wasn’t long before I learned that the woman who sat next to me wasn’t so keen on me getting so much attention. Within three months of starting, my boss quit and I was already adapting to a new style and new expectations with the new one.
But 15 years later, it’s still important for me to remember my rookie card and the feeling of being a grown up for the very first time. I’d love to hear the story of your first day and your rookie card.
[Today’s fun fact: My rookie card is worth about 2 cents, but that Mikey Mantel rookie card would get you six figures. It’s not even the most valuable. Check out this fun Forbes article by Zack O’Malley Greenburg to see which ones are.]