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College Graduates - Life Starts With A New Job!

by Kathy Sweeney, NCRW, CPRW, CEIC, CCM

Welcome to life. As commencement speeches fade into the past and student loan payments begin to loom, freshly graduated young professionals may be finding a sense of disillusionment starting to settle. Graduation is past, the first job has been landed (or is being furiously pursued) and now a whole new learning curve presents itself- the world of the professional.

New workers take heart and know that a period of adjustment is to be expected. There will be good and bad things about a new job and life after college. Co-workers may be likable, but the pay may be low. Or the pay may be nice, but the physical work environment may be less than attractive.

Or the environment and the pay are fine, but the supervisor is not very cordial. A job that has no down sides is rare, so it is imperative to concentrate on the positives and try not to dwell on the negatives.

With a new job, some time for adjustment should be allowed. While the formal education is completed, the most valuable learning is just beginning! It is okay to make mistakes. The key is to admit it, correct it as soon as possible, and try not to make it again. Mistakes are our best learning tools! Use them as opportunities to "learn the ropes" and do not be afraid to ask questions of peers and supervisors.

New graduates may also encounter unexpected time pressures and a new level of stress. Workloads may be massive and it is a stretch to complete everything on time. If possible, work overtime for two or three months until up to speed on how to do things. Efficiency will increase as tasks are learned.

Prioritize tasks and set goals for task completion. Take notes when performing new tasks in order to remember details. No one expects "newbies" to know everything, so ask questions and ask for help when necessary.

In college, occasionally skipping a class or being late to class did not cause any real detriment to your grade. Not anymore. Tardiness and absences affect performance evaluations which affect raises and promotability. It is time to hone your time management skills, not only to ensure arrival at work on time, but also to ensure that productivity during the day is at its best. Get and stay organized in mind and in actions.

A new social arena comes with a new job. There will be many new people to meet, both co-workers and members of the general public. Feel free to get to know people, but be careful to stay out of office politics. Do not judge someone by the gossip of others or jump to hasty conclusions based on bad first impressions. Give people a chance and approach situations with an open mind.

In all companies, there are some key players with whom it is vital to develop a good working relationship. Those people are the receptionist/secretary, the janitor/maintenance man, and the computer guy. Make friends with all of them. They can make life easy or they can make life hard.

Also in all companies, there are people who, for some reason or another, are always capable of getting things done when no one else can achieve results.

Identify these people early and observe how they operate. What do they do that is different that seems to affect operations? What is their management style? How do they relate with others? If possible, pursue a mentor/mentoree relationship with such a person. Learning the tricks of the trade from someone who is successful can be a great advantage.

Finally, set some personal career goals. Just because college is over, does not mean the formal learning is at an end. Many companies offer educational incentives and opportunities. Take advantage of them. Be a life-long learner.

In todays job market, the employee who fails to keep abreast of new concepts, new processes, and new ideas finds him/herself left behind very quickly. Always keep your qualifications up to date and consider yourself "always in the job market".

The first job after college is one that is always remembered. It is an exciting time when a career is launched! Work hard, but take time to enjoy it, too. A good maxim to live by in the world of work - "Be the type of employee that you yourself would find it a privilege to work with or to supervise."

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