December Grads: What to Know Before Your First Job

Straighten your tassel and get ready to walk across the stage because it’s almost time for December graduation!

College truly does prepare students for the “real world,” gives young adults some perspective before entering the workforce and to prevents us from feeling extremely overwhelmed by life. While school does teach many valuable lessons, including how to be on your own and how to get yourself to study without being told to do so, there are tidbits of knowledge about a first job that you just don’t learn in college. While the thought may seem unsettling, luckily there are a ton of resources to prepare you for these unwritten rules. Here are some pieces of advice to consider before kick starting your career:

Patience is a virtue.

As millennials, we crave instant gratification, which can be totally fine! When something comes up, we expect a response or result immediately. This can work to our advantage during tight deadlines, but can also be a problem if we demand constant feedback. When you start a new job, try to pump the breaks! Everything will fall into place eventually, but it may take time. This could mean something as simple as learning all of your coworker’s names, to organizing your to-do list over a period of time instead of all at once. Don’t get frustrated too easily; it’s natural for things to go wrong sometimes. Use mistakes or times of frustration as a time to develop self-awareness skills. What triggers your frustration and what can you do next time to combat the negative feeling? Capitalizing on these skills will help you be more patient at work.

Proactivity is key.

Starting fresh is hard because you don’t have the same experience as your colleagues who have been on the job for a while. As intimidating as it may seem, ask questions! The only way to learn the ropes of your new gig will be to learn from others. It can be hard when you don’t want to seem careless for asking something, but it shows a respectable vulnerability to admit that you don’t know all of the answers. The fact of the matter is no one is going to hold your hand and walk you through your career. In order to get started on the right foot, being proactive about learning is key!

Be as present as possible.

Take initiative to meet people. Say hello and introduce yourself in the kitchen, the elevator or the hallway. If there are get-togethers after work, go! The more effort you put into getting to know your coworkers, the more comfortable you’ll feel at work. Start with the team and colleagues who you work with directly, then continue to branch out!

Figure out the “go-to” spots.

Learn about the area that surrounds your job! Work can be long, tough and sometimes you may need to get away. On your breaks, venture out or ask colleagues about nearby hot spots. After all, you’ll want to know about the best coffee shop, the greatest places for a business lunch and where the nearest pharmacy is located.

Be gracious.

Routine as you know it after college will change. Getting a job means starting a new grind that is simply very different from college life. However, in between waking up early, working hard at your job and scurrying home for dinner, it’s a really good idea to take a step back and remember why you’re grateful. Every once in a while, write down five things you were thankful for that day. It will put this new life into perspective. The days may get longer and the work may be challenging, but that should never stop you from remembering why you love your job!

Stay strong.

In school, making mistakes means you fail a class. Fortunately, this changes entirely in the working world. While making mistakes isn’t ideal, there are valuable lessons you can learn and take forward. If you lead a project that fails, figure out where it went wrong and make improvements for the future. If you can’t hit a metric, take a second to reflect on the reasons why it’s not working. In the real world, don’t be afraid to fail as long as you’re committed to learning from the mistake. You won’t get a zero and flunk out of your job. Phew!

As scary and sad as graduating may seem, it can also be really exciting! The next chapter in your life is about to start and it’s easy to think you know all of the tricks, but there’s still so much to learn. With these tips, hopefully your first job will be more of a breeze! If you have any tips for upcoming grads, please share below:

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