5 things I learned so far in my first job out of college

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It’s hard to believe it has been a year since I graduated from Auburn University’s School of Communication and Journalism. My time in undergrad prepared me for the working world, but the amount of learning I have done outside the classroom since then is more than anything I expected. In the spring of 2018, I was still a little unsure of what I wanted to do with my journalism degree after graduation. I had written feature stories, interviewed political candidates, and even dabbled in sports media. The destination marketing world had barely crossed my mind other than the chapter we covered on tourism in a public relations class.

After 12 months of working as an account manager for Bandwagon, I am thankful I found a passion for marketing tourism destinations and can share a handful of what I have learned in my first job out of college.

Questions are meant to be asked

One of the biggest things I have learned is to ask questions. In the destination marketing world, acronyms are frequently used in everyday conversations, meetings, and emails. DMOs, ROIs, RFPs – which, by the way, stand for Destination Marketing Organization, Return on Investment and Request for Proposal respectively – are just a few terms I quickly began hearing from coworkers repeatedly.

Stopping and asking, “Can you tell me what that stands for?” was not a sign of defeat on my part because I would not have been able to successfully perform a task without a clear understanding. Rather, asking questions gives me the confidence to perform my job better and strengthen my relationships with others in the office. Ten months later, I still find myself asking these types of questions.

Organization is key

Write this down: a calendar and note-taking is your best friend. Through my 23 years of life, you can say I have struggled some with staying organized. When I was younger, I liked to live in what I would call organized chaos. My room was messy, but I said I knew where everything was among the piles of paper on my desk or clothes mixed up in drawers.


Today, I am the opposite. Especially in the destination marketing world, juggling dates for multiple press trips, meetings with different clients, and due dates for reports, keeping up with my calendar, and where everything is values more important than before.


I bring my notebook to each meeting I have with coworkers or while on a call with client or journalist. While I might like to think my memory is adequate to get everything done, I have found I work better when I write things down and can refer to later. To-do lists are my favorite way to lay out my day and see what needs to be completed each day or week. Creating a to-do list leads me to success in the office and better time management.

Keep learning new skills

My writing background has helped me tremendously in the public relations field of marketing. I have a good grip on understanding how story telling impacts the tourism industry. However, I am continuously learning new skills to further my career.


For me, learning new skills goes along with the willingness to ask questions. The questions I ask frequently lead to me realizing something new I should consider adding to my skills. Being a well-rounded member of the office will allow others to start coming to you for advice and push you to becoming a better team member.

Maintain the connections you make

In the destination marketing field, we are constantly networking whether that be with stakeholders from a client’s destination, travel journalists and other marketing professionals. While it can seem easy to have a phone call and be done with the conversation, keeping in touch with the connections you make is vital to success.

Follow-up emails are a great way to keep in touch with connections. Even if it is just to ask what a journalist has been working on, offering to help pitch stories to share with their editors, or even telling them what you have been working on, the follow-up can go a long way.

My perspective can be just as important as anyone else’s

Being a new member of an office can be intimidating. Relationships within the others might seem settled and can lead you to hesitate in offering opinions at first. However, your perspective is just as important as anyone else’s in the office. Don’t be afraid to offer up new ideas or help someone struggling with a task you don’t normally help with. A team can only be successful if they work together.

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Alice Phillips

Alice Phillips

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