Topic of the Week Calling All Graduates: Career Advice As You Leave School
- DON'T expect the worst.
- DON'T just focus on the cash.
- DON'T always fit in.
- DO ask for help.
It's graduation time which only can mean one thing, a lot of ponderous and preachy lectures about what the newly minted graduates should do with the rest of their life. Well, get ready for one more. Sorry, but I couldn't pass up the opportunity. And if you're not a graduate, feel free to tear this out or copy it and give it to one. Heck, claim that you wrote it, I have no problem with that. Which reminds me of my daughter Frankie when she was three and I moved into a new building to live. Some tenants had reserved parking, but I opted for the always more exciting let's-see-if-I-can-find-a-parking-spot game. But Frankie didn't called it "reserved" parking, she would refer to it as "deserved" parking.
Graduates need to be careful of thinking that anything ahead of them in their career, or life, is either deserved or reserved. Unless of course your last name is Gates, Rockefeller or Gaga. No you need to earn your own way after leaving school. I've included three Don'ts and one Do to try to help get where you need to go.
DON'T expect the worst. Most of the time that you were in school you were flooded with stories in the press and from friends who had graduated about one of the worst all-time job markets. Well thankfully for you, those days are now behind us. There are jobs out there. Sure there is a lot of competition, not only from your peers but from more experienced people in the workforce, but you have a shot.
DON'T just focus on the cash. The movie Jerry McGuire may have been before your time, but the phrase "Show me the money" clearly isn't. There is only one problem for new graduates, money is not the most important thing to you at this stage in your career. I know, you have bills to pay and student loans. But experience and variety in your tasks can be more important to you right now, because it can open up possibilities for you down the line.
DON'T always fit in. The tendency as a new employee is to try to blend in. You know like how you would try to disappear in a large lecture hall when you showed up unprepared for the lecture. But that is a dangerous way to approach your career. You need to get people's attention. Look for challenging projects that scare off other people or find people who take chances and align with them. I'm not saying be foolhardy, but do look to take calculated risks.
DO ask for help. Your education was mostly an individual pursuit. Most companies are a group endeavor. You need to become part of the workplace community and ask for help. Not dumb questions and not all the time, but seek out mentors.
Use these tips and your success won't be reserved or deserved, it will be earned. Always the best way to go.
Bob Rosner is a best-selling author and award-winning journalist. For free job and work advice, check out the award-winning workplace911.com. Check the revised edition of his Wall Street Journal best seller, "The Boss's Survival Guide." If you have a question for Bob, contact him firstname.lastname@example.org.