Straight out of college, most young people take some time off before engaging in one of the most important phases of their young life: job-hunting. That break is a necessary breather that can help them go on the “hunt” in full force afterward, considering how stiff the competition can be.
Many of these fresh grads learn right away that competition is not the only difficulty they will face when landing their chosen career path and actually starting work. There are so many other obstacles along the way, and some can be very disillusioning.
Senior professionals, however, say that the shocking realities of finding and scoring the right job can be managed if you have a strong attitude and a personal culture of learning. If you possess these two, not only will you deal with such realities more easily, but you also make professional success more attainable.
Knowing some real-world career lessons beforehand can likewise help you manage and minimize the culture shock your first real job can deliver, so listed here are eight of these important lessons.
1. Being the best in college doesn’t mean much when you’re a new hire.
College admission consultants may stress the importance of good grades in getting into a good university, but in the real, professional world, your grades won’t matter as much. What impresses employees and establishes your value as a worker is your actual performance on the job.
Your performance is not something that can be graded according to how you know operational principles; it involves a myriad of other variables such as your attitude, how you cooperate with your team, how creative you are in your approaches to problems, and many others.
2. You will be asked to do a lot of things that have nothing to do with what you actually know.
The position you have applied for may have clearly defined responsibilities, but you can bet you’ll also be made to do other things that are not part of the job description, such as getting coffee for all the senior employees, making copies, and even picking up children from school.
All entry-level jobs present unglamorous tasks, so don’t think yourself too learned for those if you wish to succeed in the company.
3. You’ll find yourself working more hours than you expected.
Even if you land a nine-to-five job, don’t expect to just do eight hours of work. Competitive companies don’t care if you’re new; you are to deliver what you are expected to deliver even if doing so will stretch your workday to 10+ hours. You don’t stop working because it’s already five o’clock; you stop when you’re done with what you were assigned to do.
4. Good work is not always acknowledged.
When you’re new, you’re hungry for acknowledgment – sometimes you’re granted it, but most of the time, your good work doesn’t even earn a “thank you.” It can be very discouraging, but if there are too many people in the company, it’s hard for those in authority to give credit where credit is due all the time, especially for small victories.
Don’t focus too much on earning praise; instead, work harder so that your output’s superior quality will just be impossible to ignore.
5. Being a listener will work to your advantage.
Listening is one of the best ways to learn the ropes and actually earn the approval of or simply get on the good side of the people you work with. New employees that talk too much are often perceived negatively; gabbers are deemed distracting and obnoxious.
As much as possible, limit your chatter to those moments when your ideas and opinions are requested, and when you have questions about work processes. This is only for when you’re still new anyway; one day in the future, you’ll be able to express yourself more freely, especially when you start spearheading brainstorming and discussions.
6. It’s not uncommon for other people to take credit for your ideas.
You may be inclined to think that this only happens in the movies, but this always happens in a cutthroat corporate scene.
7. You will question your career choice.
Some days just don’t make sense and you’ll find yourself asking a lot of questions about the job that’s earning you money. This happens to most people, and as young and new as you are, consider this completely normal because you’re still discovering things about yourself.
8. You’re likely to stick it out with your job many years before finding your true career.
Finally, a true career is something that brings you joy, earns you money, and doesn’t feel like hard work even if it is. Most people don’t get a career right away and the same thing is likely to happen to you. You’ll stick it out with your job because it pays the bills and takes some concerns off of your head.
It’s typical for fresh graduates to want a long and problem-free career with the first company they work for, so it helps to know the real deal when it comes to their first professional job. Knowing how different things can be from how they are projected in their head will help in managing expectations and making adequate preparations.
Brian Giroux is an experienced college admissions advisor and co-founder of Capital College Consulting. Brian is a Professional Member of Independent Educational Consulting Association (IECA). Brian has worked with students from over 30 countries to help provide guidance through the US admissions process.
Brian’s experience includes 18+ years in education serving multiple roles as educator, athletic director, and college admissions consultant.