9 Things Graduates Should Know About Post-College Work

Over the next few weeks many students will be graduating from colleges and universities and starting that tough search for their first post college job. A few years ago I wrote a LinkedIn piece geared toward new college graduates entering the workforce. My views on this topic have already grown since I wrote part 1. So here are some additional thoughts on this topic.

  1. Be Empathetic - I am a parent of two, which has taught me to give most people the benefit of doubt at the starting gates of our work relationship. Many of us are dealing with real life issues that can not help but creep into our work lives. Some may have a sick family member, a problem in their marriage, or who knows what else. Don’t expect that everyone should be doing the same thing at the exact same moments as everyone else.
  2. Realize That No Company Will Be Perfect - TV and movies have destroyed our ideals of the perfect job. The truth is that no company is completely perfect for every person. You need to get out there and work for multiple employers to find out what makes you happy.
  3. Expect Nothing and Be Grateful for Anything - Don't bitch about the small stuff. If your biggest complaint is you don't like the type of tea the office provides you for free, then you have zero perspective of how shitty so many other companies are out there. If you are that tea snob get out there and find out for yourself.
  4. Know the Company Before You Say Yes - Ask how many people have left in the past year on your interview. This is a great indicator of real culture. My current company has an insanely low departure rate. You can really learn a lot from this statistic.
  5. Be True To Yourself - One of the hardest things for young people to deal with in the workplace is figuring out the type of person that they want to be. If you find yourself in a work culture where it is OK to bash a coworker who isn’t in the room, bash someone because they take vacations, think long and hard before you join in the bashing. When you are in this culture there is certainly pressure to join in, but people will ultimately respect you more if you don’t.
  6. You Don’t Need To Have It All Figured Out - Not many people know what they will be doing 5 years from now, so don’t let anyone make you feel like you should know the answer to that question. Get your feet wet, gain valuable experience, and figure out what you like and don’t like in the workplace.
  7. Ignore What Your Friends Are Making - The quickest way to get caught up in the rat race is to compare yourself with the people that you went to school with. They may have boring jobs in finance and making three times as much as you are, but who cares. You would have taken a different path if that is what you were after. Give your path a chance.
  8. Remember That Your Actions Now Have Lasting Importance - The way that you act early in your career may seem inconsequential to the big scope of your career. In the early days, you are starting your path to who you will be as a professional. It is very easy to just join the crowd and do things that you normally wouldn’t. Don’t be a bully, don’t backstab others, don’t be an asshole, don’t be a coward. Don’t be the bottleneck on projects. Don’t talk down to people, don’t disrespect anyone and don’t take actions that you wouldn’t want done to yourself.
  9. Learn That Managing Means Up and Down - When you become a manager of people you will quickly realize that managing is a two way street. Often times you are not only managing the people in your department, but you also have to manage upwards to guide and educate your superiors. This can seem confusing at first but it is extremely important to manage expectations and achieve the goals that you set out for the company.

Are you a recent College graduate? What types of jobs are you seeking and why? Please let me know in the comments.

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