A Recent Grad’s Journey into the Work Force
College students seem to have the impression that the day after graduation, a job offer will be knocking on their door, waiting to train and educate them on everything they didn’t learn in the classroom. Unfortunately, that is not the case. But, lucky for me this process has given me something far more valuable than a job.
Since graduation, there are a few things I’ve learned that I think every recent grad should be aware of. No matter how high of a GPA you have, or the number of honor societies and extracurricular activities you join throughout your college career, nothing will make you more qualified or prepared for a job than real life, hands-on experience where you can work with and learn from people who love what they do.
While it may be your professors’ responsibility to educate you on how to analyze basic elements of your desired industry, or how to apply textbook theories and concepts to real life situations, it is not in their job description to teach you how to be a qualified and passionate professional. This is a skill one can only acquire through continuous learning and experience.
After graduating college, I felt I was entitled to a job and expected one to be handed to me simply because I received my expensive piece of paper. But I soon realized, that piece of paper was just a ticket to the long journey I was about to start. So as a recent grad, who finally found a way to make it through this limbo we call post-grad life, I’d like to share with you some advice for the very long, yet rewarding journey you have ahead of you.
- Work towards starting your career, not just taking the first job that is offered to you.
Don’t accept a job offer just because it comes with a nice paycheck. One thing I’ve learned since graduating is that it is never too late to be an intern. Good experience is an investment in your career, and will always be more valuable than any amount of money in your bank account. So don’t be afraid to start at the bottom, it’s only up from there!
- Your employer won’t expect you to know everything, but they will expect you to ask questions.
As an intern, asking questions has become my favorite hobby. No matter how complicated or simple the answer may be, never be afraid to admit you don’t know something. While you may think you are being a nuisance, your employers will enjoy your curiosity and willingness to learn and grow as a professional—this is also a great way to avoid making mistakes, that in some cases your employers won’t enjoy.
- Look for a company that offers you a mentor, not a boss.
If there is one thing I can take away from my internship at R&J, it is that a boss cannot be a true leader if they do not concern themselves with the growth and improvement of their employees. Working in an environment where everyone is willing to not only teach you, but provide you with constant feedback on a day-to-day basis, makes going to work every day that much more enjoyable, and that is something that I have found here at R&J.