It’s sad but true — that first “real” job out of college can be a bit of a letdown.

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My son recently graduated from college and started a job,” writes a worried mother. “He doesn’t like it! But it pays well, and he has student loans to pay off. What advice can I give him?”

It’s sad but true — that first “real” job out of college can be a bit of a letdown.

Part of the reason is that the transition from the school environment, where people are focused on what they can do for you, to the work environment, where people are more focused on what you can do for them, can be jarring.

Even worse, many employers feel that new employees need to pay their dues and thus will saddle them with dull tasks that no one really likes doing but that need to be done anyway.

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If you are an unhappily employed recent grad, however, knowing all this doesn’t really help, does it?

What will help is to devise an action plan.

First, think through your goals. Is this particular job going to get you there? If so, stick with it for the time being. You probably still won’t like it, but working there intentionally gives you back your power and makes you feel less like a victim.

Next, look for ways to improve your situation. Search for tasks that need doing and that you’d enjoy doing. Identify aspects about the job that you don’t like and devise ways to make them less horrible.

Meanwhile, feel free to look around for a different job — all the while continuing to deliver an honest day’s work for an honest day’s pay, of course. In fact, whether you love or hate your current job, you should always be keeping an eye open for that next opportunity. Knowing what’s out there lends perspective (you may discover that the job you have is not so bad after all) and puts you in a position to land on your feet should your current position disappear (it happens).

One last thought: This is probably not going to be the first time you work at a job you don’t like, but knowing how to manage a less-than-ideal situation is a skill that will serve you your whole life long. Hang in there.

Karen Burns is the author of The Amazing Adventures of Working Girl: Real-Life Career Advice You Can Actually Use. Email her at wg@karenburnsworkinggirl.com.