New grad? Your education isn't over yet! Your first job out of college should be about growth and skill-building.
Graduation time is, once again, nearly upon us. You (or someone you love) may be facing one of life’s biggest transitions: from the world of school to the world of work.
It can be brutal.
New grads often feel tremendous pressure to “get this right.” Expectations can be sky high, even without the looming prospect of having to start paying off those college loans.
That’s why before you do anything else you should take a moment to chill. Recognize that your first job is just that — a first job. It’s not your forever job. It may in fact turn out to be the exact opposite of your forever job. Fortunately, when it comes to your professional or vocational life, do-overs are definitely allowed, even expected.
Next, consider that what you now may believe to be important might not be as important as it seems. We are told to “follow our dreams” or even to “follow the money.” Commencement speakers send us off with grandiose exhortations to “change the world.” Peers push us to do “something cool.”
If these seem like enormous expectations, like something vague and overwhelming at the same time, that’s because they are. How to get from here to there? Again, take a moment to chill while remembering that, even with a graduate or post-graduate degree under your belt, you are still relatively young and have time to grow.
Indeed, you may want to make “growth” your immediate career goal. Look for a boss who will give you space to develop your talents and capabilities. Look for a team you feel excited to work alongside, people whom you like, admire, respect, and enjoy spending a lot of time with. Look for an organization with a culture that you feel comfortable in and that offers you experience and teaches you skills, as well as providing opportunities for promotion.
You may discover that what’s truly “important” is the reality of what you do all day every day, and with whom. In fact, a job that challenges you and excites you on a day-to-day basis is pretty much the definition of true career bliss.
Who knows? You may also end up realizing your dreams, saving the world, even making some money. And what could possibly be cooler than that?
Karen Burns is the author of The Amazing Adventures of Working Girl: Real-Life Career Advice You Can Actually Use and of the novel “The Paris Effect.” Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.