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When you are just starting out in your career, it is both an incredibly exciting and scary time. It was through a combination of instinct and great advice from my parents—for which I am eternally grateful—that I was able to navigate the uncharted territory of the fashion world. If I could go back and do it all over, these are the points I would hone in on; they are also the words of wisdom I offer to anyone who is just getting their feet wet!
What RZ Wishes She Knew At Age 22
Photo Courtesy: Rachel Zoe
No one told me this, but I instinctively figured it out on my own: never pay mind to the clock. When you are first starting out at a job (and even when you are settled into a company), stay as late as you can and also always be the first person to work in the morning. This is obviously easier to do if you love your job, but even if you are in an assistant or entry-level role, you must understand that putting in the extra time will move you closer to what you want to do. One of my first jobs in New York was for YM Magazine, and although I was technically hired for only three days a week, I would always log extra days no questions asked; it was hard work but it taught me so much while also making me stand out.
While learning what your strongest skills are is obvious, being able to acknowledge your weaknesses is also a key component to success. I learned this from my father and it is the best piece of advice anyone has ever given me. When you identify your shortcomings, you are empowered to ask for help and pair up with others who will lend a hand while also benefitting from your strengths. Find the yin to your yang! I found mine in Rodger who has always been by-the-book business savvy while I bring to the table a more creative outlook and gut instinct.
With several different facets to my business—designing, The Zoe Report, the styling studio and being a mother —I have had no choice but to learn how to prioritize. And while it is hard for me to admit this as a Virgo, it is impossible to do everything at once. You must divide and conquer. If your boss throws fifteen things on your plate, make it a point to ask which is most important. Then, for the assignments that are absolutely a priority, do your best to not rush them. That may mean carving out extra time at home to perfect a project; homework doesn’t end when you graduate school!
Conflict in the workplace is inevitable. Especially when you work in a creative field and there are a lot of emotions or passions at play. If there is someone in particular who is weighing you down, my best advice is to kill them with kindness and smile your way through it. Ratting someone out or biting back will never get you anywhere. Instead, just keep being a team player and focus on doing the best job you can do. Hopefully, the problem will eventually dissolve in the form of a promotion.
Building your resume with internships that are relevant to your career field or positioning yourself in a city where you want to work, you have to set yourself up wisely. If you want to work in New York, you have a much higher chance of getting hired if you actually live there. Employers are not likely to take the risk of relocating someone from out-of-state when they have dozens of qualified candidates nearby. While moving to a new place can be daunting, think of it as the first chapter in your exciting new path…Too many people want the job you are after.
The only thing more nerve-racking than a first date is a job interview! My advice for making yourself stand out in a stack of resumes, other than dressing the part in an outfit that is both professional and personal, is to go in prepared. Study not only the position you are applying for, but the person you are interviewing with as well. Have thoughtful questions ready. Be confident but not arrogant. You may even consider setting up a fake interview with your roommate or friend—it’s the ultimate way to prepare!