Some Harsh Realities Of Worklife For Students And Recent Grads
Real life isn’t like school, get psyched for what employers expect
School’s done! Hit the pavement and bury them books. Life is lit! No more humiliating summer gigs or unpaid internships. The feverish search for a real job’s on.
For many students and recent grads, it’s like entering a lion’s den. Less so if you’re exceptional (e.g. super smart or accomplished, have a desperately sought out degree, or are happy to work for scumbags). Otherwise just getting hired at entry-level with a decent enough company’s a schlep.
Then come the harsh truths about that first full-time position. School rules no longer apply. You’re up against a Darwinian world where the fittest flourish. Jump in with eyes wide open.
A Foot In The Door Beats Doors Slammed On Your Feet
It’s damned competitive out there. Expecting an ideal first job – excellent pay, supportive boss, loads of room for growth – might be a hoop dream. So think in advance what you might need to compromise.
Is the position at least in or close to your desired field? Could you stay for 18 months and do stuff on the side, like take courses or volunteer, to be more marketable next round? Holding out for perfect’s risky unless you’ve got the goods.
Once Hired, Your School Grades Mean Zero
Whether you come bristling with fancy schmancy diplomas and top marks or barely scraped by in school, it’s ancient history after you’re onboard.
What counts most is three things:
• Proving you’ve got the right stuff (skills, knowledge, work ethic, personality fit)
• Making your boss look like a star (so they’ll rely on you)
• Doing what’s necessary to succeed (playing politics, helping hide bodies)
Employers Tend To Do What’s Best For THEM
Usually, only a few fast-track employees stick out from the crowd. For them, the company will move mountains. Everyone else listen up: all that talk about how you and the organizations are partners and your professional growth is their gain? Hogwash.
Replaceable workers may have to fight for each scrap of training, mentoring and recognition. And in the end, it’s the bottom line that reigns, not you. Which means even the most productive staff can be sh*t-canned with proper notice but for no reason.
Either Market Yourself Internally Or Get Ghosted
In school, you’re supposed to earn your grades based on output quality alone. In the real world, your performance could be off the charts, but if no one hears about it, so what.
Turn yourself into a perpetual public relations pro. Message management when you’ve saved time or money, or generated revenue. Careful not to over-brag.
Grunge Work Builds Your Cred
The first projects and tasks you’re assigned may be cruddy. Making copies. Setting up meetings. Doing the bidding of senior colleagues.
This is a standard right of passage. The trick here is to not quit in disgust (unless you’ve been lied to about your duties) and to do small things well. That’s how you build a solid reputation that leads to juicier assignments.