8 Things New Graduates Should Know About the 9 – 5
1. A higher paycheck doesn’t mean a better job
It’s easy when you are interviewing to get caught up in the fantasy of having the highest paying job of your friends with the best benefits. You start comparing big name companies and it feels good to be wanted by them. They stroke your ego by flying you out their city and wining and dining you over the positives in their company. Don’t be blindsided by a big paycheck, ask your questions and do your research. Although you might feel crazy for turning down the big time job for a lesser salary, it’s the fit that matters. You need to love the company’s culture and believe in the work you are doing to go home at the end of your day and enjoy your 9 – 5.
2. Take time off
You’ve earned it. Don’t jump into the first job that throws a salary at you, there’s a big world out there and you should take some time to see it. Even if you do jump into the first job, negotiate a later start date so you can do some traveling before you start. You have plenty of years ahead of you to work long hours, a month or two of traveling before you start is a fair trade to your company.
If you tell yourself you will travel more later, you will:
- Jump into the rat race
- Get married
- Have kids
- Never make the time.
Neither marriage or kids are a bad plan (this is coming from someone who got married right after college and is currently pregnant), but the longer you wait the more excuses you find to NOT go and the harder it gets.
3. More school doesn’t mean you have a better chance of getting a job
Often graduates aren’t sure what they want to do when it is time to pick a job (which is a completely normal feeling). Instead of taking time to step back and consider what they really enjoy, their best skills and type of culture they thrive in – they insist they need more schooling. They go for the graduate degree, or masters in order to give themselves a ‘better’ degree and a few more years to figure out what it is they want to do with that degree.
Usually all this means is more money out (more debt) and no clearer vision of what their passions are when it comes to finding that perfect job. Give yourself a year or two before you go for your masters to make sure you are getting the higher education in the right industry.
4. Be interesting
Everyone goes through generally the same studies, so talking about how you excelled in your accounting course isn’t going to help you stand out. Find a way to be interesting. Start an entrepreneurial venture while you are still in school and talk about that, study abroad and discuss what you learned from working in a different culture. Find something that you are passionate about and let it show through in your interview.
By allowing your future company to see the real you, you will better find a corporate culture that fits your energy and passions. Interesting companies want to hire interesting people – not just employees who finished 4 years with top grades and awards.
5. Small businesses rock
When I graduated, my business school filled my interview schedule with big names. Fortune 500 companies came to the school and interviewed us one after the other – and what I wish I would have realized is how many cool jobs are out there with small businesses. They aren’t as easy to find because you usually have to do a bit more research and know what you are looking for, but working for a small business or startup is never boring. You get to see more of the business and be involved in a variety of responsibilities. Instead of company days at Six Flags, you get to go to the CEO’s house and have a cook out.
This isn’t for everyone, but it is something to consider when you are graduating before you get blinded by the big name on the door.
6. You will be expected to play the game
Small or big, you can’t join a company and not be expected to play the game (unless you work for yourself). Playing the game can mean drastically different things in different companies. It may mean attending social events after hours, doing extra-curricular “activities”, attending meetings, mentoring, buttering up the higher-ups to get your name out there. You may be relieved that you no longer need to spend time “networking” because you’ve already landed the job, only to realize that networking doesn’t end, and if you want to succeed in your company, it still helps to get to know the right people. You will have to put in face time with your boss or other employees, show up at a certain time, work a set amount of hours and fill out the right reports to get your bonus at the end of the year. Whatever it is, if you want to succeed in most companies you are required to play the game.
Maybe with your company this isn’t such a bad thing, but don’t join a company thinking you will be the exception and can get out of the corporate ladder climbing.
7. It’s OK to change your mind
You started university thinking you wanted to be a teacher, and then half way through you switched to a business major and now after graduating you realize your passion is to write. That’s OK! You have been learning all different types of skills in your classes and it is up to you how you use them. Don’t feel compelled to get a job in a certain industry only because that is what you went to school for. Do the research and internal assessment as to what type of job and company you want to be apart of.
Don’t pick a desk job if you are an outdoors person – you will go crazy. Don’t sign up for a suit wearing corporate job, if you despise meetings and don’t manage authority well. Don’t stick with a job for a year even though you are miserable because you think your resume needs it. As long as you can confidently explain to your next employer why you switched, you should feel comfortable changing your mind at any time.
8. There is not a perfect job
Work is work. Some days you will hate it, and some days you will love it, but either way it is work. There isn’t a perfect job and setting your expectations will help a lot with your attitude towards any job that you get post college. It is not your employer’s requirement to keep you happy. You need to go into each day with the goal of bettering yourself and those around you. Get to know your colleagues and help them whenever possible. Don’t wait for your boss to give you goals, set your own and learn all that you can from each employer and company.
Your life isn’t defined by your job, it is defined by your own thoughts and actions that you do every day. So no matter what job you are in, it is your responsibility to continue to improve yourself and never let outside factors (grumpy colleagues, rude clients, crappy boss) affect your mood.
Also, I mentioned it above, but if you’re a new graduate and you haven’t done any traveling…GO!