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Martha’s Advice for Recent Grads

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Becky Mickel, Brittany Steele and me -- all interns at Martha Stewart Living

Every day when I walk into the Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia offices, I pass a wall painted with some of the company’s mottos. One that has always resonated with me is “When you’re through changing, you’re through.” Yesterday, while meeting with the interns working at MSLO this summer, Martha herself reiterated that sentiment.

As a recent college grad, change is all I’ve been thinking about lately. I’ve labored over the decisions that feel as if they’ll irreversibly affect the rest of my life: Whether to stay in New York after my internship ends and what kind of work I’m passionate about. Each decision is a step down the path to my “grown-up” existence and I’m terrified of taking a wrong turn. With that in mind, I was paying extra-close attention while Martha shared some of her wisdom with us.

Rule #1: Once your name is on something, you are the brand.

When Martha said this, she was talking about her experience creating an eponymous empire. It’s advice I think can apply to young professionals like myself too; my name is my brand and my reputation rests on how people perceive the “brand” I’ve created.

Rule #2: Be passionate about your business.

Martha recommended interning at as many places as possible to get a better understanding of yourself and what work makes you happy. It’s advice frequently doled out at commencement speeches, but it’s incredibly true. Waking up and going to work feels a lot less like work when you’re doing something at the office that you’d readily do at home. I love getting to my desk each morning and preparing tweets for the Martha Stewart Living account (follow us!) because I get to see all the enthusiastic replies readers send. That interaction makes what we do as a magazine seem more worthwhile. Martha put it best when she said, “If I can help anybody do anything, it’s a good thing.”

Rule #3: Make good friends in the office.

Being on friendly terms with your coworkers makes the workday a little more fun, but it also improves the chances people will want to keep you around. An office friend is also an ally who helps you follow through on the goals and projects you set out to tackle.

Rule #4: Express yourself.

Martha went on to explain if you want to stick around at a company, you have to make that fact known. Don’t be afraid to open your mouth and let people know how invested you are in a brand, a workplace, or an idea. See Rule #2.

Rule #5: Be seen as an expert in something.

When Martha wrote the book that started it all, “Entertaining” (1982), she was viewed as an expert in the art of hosting a good party. She even gave us advice on how to be good hosts (fluffy towels, a comfy bed, and a memorable breakfast in the morning). Right now, I’m trying to find that “something” for myself, the little niche I can call my own. That sense of authority is what success is built on.

Meeting Martha was one of the highlights of my internship thus far. It was great to get a little advice from such an icon, but I’ll take help where I can get it. What was the best advice you received after graduating?

See even more photos from the intern lunch and read about what we discussed on Martha’s blog.

Comments (4)

  • Mary Kay Blakely on rejection letters: “You only need one yes.”

    Great article Taylor!

  • A most thourough and enlightened commentary.
    Work friends are very important!

  • Good advice Taylor. Definitely “a good thing”!

  • Finish what you started. That’s the advise that I gave myself while attending college and working full-time. I was not a traditional student in college; I worked 8 to 5 and attended school at night while raising my daughter. While this was tough, I would not change a thing. Life is what you make of it so make the most of it and surround yourself good things. Exellent article Taylor!

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