Your First Job After College: Expectations vs. Reality
Recruiting season is underway and hopefully, many of you are landing your dream jobs. Because for many this is your first job after college, it’s hard to really know what to expect. Hope, excitement, and anxiety are likely to fill your thoughts. Will this be your chance to change the world and make a name for yourself or will you fall into a pit of misery just to collect a paycheck? To help get you started, here are some things for you to consider with your first job after college.
Expectation: You are primed to change the world!
Let’s face it. When you start your first full-time job, you’re a freshly minted college graduate who recently experienced all the pomp and circumstance of getting your degree. Relatives lauded your accomplishments, professors commended your efforts, and the person who addressed your graduating class probably spent 30 minutes talking about how each of you were now armed with the knowledge and wisdom needed to change the world! Throwing that graduate cap into the air, you felt your chest expand with confidence. The world was your stage, and you were the star.
Reality: The real learning starts now, and you’re at the bottom of the ladder
Yes, graduating from college is a big deal. You deserve the praise and admiration of your family and friends, but let’s get one thing straight: you’re back to the bottom of the food chain, totem pole, or whatever other word you want to use to symbolize your workplace’s social hierarchy. Additionally, you may have written a brilliant 40 page senior thesis on some esoteric academic subject, but chances are that’s not gonna help you in the day to day of your new job. The college experience has not changed nearly as rapidly as the professional world, which means there is a tremendous amount you’re going to have to learn at your new job. Hopefully you were smart enough to use smart tools and resources like MindSumo to prepare for your post-college career ;).
Expectation: Work is always interesting and fun
You know those people who say things like “I’ve never worked a day in my life, because my job doesn’t feel like work.”? Don’t you just want to punch them in the mouth? Taking that first step into the professional world is exhilarating and even scary, and plenty of fresh-faced graduates view the experience through rose colored glasses. They think of their favorite movies depicting protagonists in their chosen profession. Usually, they’re doing amazing things and leading fast-paced fulfilling lives at work. Such overdramatized Hollywood portrayals would certainly be nice, but let’s get real folks.
Reality: A lot of times work kinda sucks
Obviously, there are times when work is awesome and you’re excited to be there, but the reality is there are many, many, MANY times work is…well…WORK! During your first few years as an entry-level pawn, you can expect lots of monotonous tasks, plenty of boring days, and at least a few gut-wrenching nights lying in bed pondering the value (or lack thereof) of the work you do everyday.
Expectation: You will quickly rise in your job
When starting a new job, it can be easy to think that your youth, energy, and creativity will soon make it clear to everyone that you deserve the fast track to management positions. You envision your meteoric rise, accompanied by raises, bonuses, and the envy of all your college friends (who are, of course, still slaving away at their menial jobs).
Reality: You have a long road before promotion
If you remember, one of the earlier paragraphs mentioned how much you have to learn when starting a new job. Well, this takes time and effort; not to mention the fact that there are lots of other more experienced people you work with. Instead of focusing on how you’re going to climb the corporate ladder, maybe instead focus on trying to learn as much as you can from your superiors. They will like you more for it, and it will increase your chance of getting ahead by taking note of how others who came before you managed it.
Expectation: You’ll be best friends with all your coworkers
Again, this is where television and movies sometimes paint a picture of office life that idealizes coworker relationships. Days filled with inside jokes, high-fives, and life-changing collaboration may be in store for you at your first job, but chances are you won’t have unshakable camaraderie with every person at the office.
Reality: There might be co workers you flat out don’t like
Just as there were people in college you didn’t get along with, there will probably be co workers who rub you the wrong way. The important thing is to remember that you can choose how to react to these people. Learn to control your temper, not take offense easily, and if there’s no other alternative, just stay away from them! It’s not worth getting all riled up over a co worker when you can instead just choose to limit your interactions the person who boils your blood!
So, what can you take away from this list? Mainly that starting your first job is hard! However, as with most things, you get out what you put in. There’s no reason you can’t make your first job after college a positive one! Having the right attitude can make all the difference, and don’t worry if your first job isn’t your dream job. In fact, it shouldn’t be! Use it as a great learning experience so you can truly figure out what drives you. Keep your chin up, and good luck with the exciting transition from the classroom to the workplace!
If you are still searching for that job, consider checking out our MindSumo challenge. Our friend Colin nailed his submission which led to an interview and a job. Read his story.