Today I had a sharp realization that I have been fully immersed in a professional environment for an entire year. This is the longest period of time I’ve ever lived or worked in the same place since I left my home when I was 18, and it’s not over! This past year has been all about learning and growth. It has been about tackling challenges as they’ve arisen in front of me, about improvising and thinking on my feet and about strategizing and planning for the future. It has been about working with people to form symbiotic relationships in order to help each other grow, and about negotiating my needs in order to fulfill the expectations of my grand vision.
In short, if I could sum up the experiential growth I’ve had this past year in a photo, it would look something like this:
I am so full of new experiences and skills, and yet so eager to continue soaking in new ones as they come.
Today was a day where I saw how much I’ve been learning come into play. Last week I called for a meeting with our catering company to discuss the portions and quality of our food on our campus. In general, it’s been an uphill battle with them since I started, and they tend to nickle and dime our contract everytime I ask for them to improve the quality of their service in order for it to equate to what we pay.
A year ago, or maybe even three months ago, I would have walked into that meeting and nodded my head at everything they said, gotten flustered and agreed to something that wasn’t to the company’s benefit. But today I walked into my meeting, armed with some “carrots and sticks” to negotiate with, a few tactics to up the ante for our benefit and some figures to bring the nickle and diming back to the big picture.
I left the meeting feeling a sense of accomplishment at having successfully stalled a conversation that I wasn’t ready to have with them regarding additional costs, and for getting them to agree to pay for some things that they aren’t even obligated to pay for. It felt like a feather in my cap, which, of course, I tip in admiration and gratitude to those who have coached me through the learning process and believed in my ability to negotiate on my own.
Here’s to soaking it up and wringing it out.