Spring is finally in the air, at least where I live. The grass is starting to turn green, the weather is warming up and I’m going to consume my weight in barbecued steak over the next few months, eating most of it while sitting in my covered patio, which is easily the best part of my house. Since I have access to all the free chips I could ever want, this is probably going to be the best summer ever. I will get fat again, yet regret nothing.
What was the point of this post again?
Another sign of spring is the waves of college and university grads, throwing off the shackles of education to finally join the rest us in the world of the employed. A whole lifetime of work lay ahead of them, a fortune in wages is just waiting for them to earn it.
All they have to do is find a job first.
Based on numerous scientific studies by all sorts of smart people, (read: a five minute conversation with a friend) I’ve figured out that jobs are kind of scarce out there. Apparently there’s been some sort of economic slowdown or something. This is the first I’m hearing about it too.
Seriously for a minute, my advice to new grads is pretty straightforward. Instead of looking for the best job now, look for the job with the most opportunity. The job with the highest ceiling is the job a grad should be focusing their attention on, rather than the one with the highest current salary.
In a way I can’t believe I’m giving this advice. I’m working on my 4th job since high school graduation a decade ago. If there was a competing chip company offering me more money, I would drop everything and switch alliances instantly, providing the company was as good as the company I’m with now. In the age of layoffs and retirement benefits being cut left and right, why would I propose a grad to start at the bottom of a company and work their way up?
The first reason is learning the lessons of humility and patience. Starting at the bottom and working up the ladder teaches all sorts of skills that many graduates haven’t yet mastered. Today’s youth are almost too happy to switch jobs or cities when they grow tired of their position. By sticking it out for more than a couple years, a new employee shows their employer that they’re around for the long haul. Who would you promote, the flash in the pan or the steady long term performer?
Knowing the risk of this paragraph turning into a “damn kids these days” rant, I’m going to type it anyway. Kids are babied by overprotective parents even through university these days. Everything from their after school activities to their Facebook page is supervised by the keen eye of their protective parents. Then they finally get out into the real world, end up at some job that’s good EXCEPT for one little thing, and they pout until they quit. I know a lot of recent grads who could learn a thing or two about adversity and how to take it like a grown up.
How About Entrepreneurship?
For most new grads, the answer is no.
There will be a select few who will go out and start their own business fresh after graduation. Out of those, an even smaller few will actually succeed at it. That’s reason number one why new grads shouldn’t attempt to start a business right out of school. If they thought university had a high failure rate, they ain’t seen nothing yet.
The other reason new grads shouldn’t try their hand at starting a business is because they don’t have the experience yet. How does someone know they’ll hate working for someone if they’ve only done it for a few months at a time? It’s better to get a few years experience in a chosen field before deciding to branch out on your own. Plus, increased knowledge of the industry will be a necessity to any entrepreneur.
Don’t Be Afraid To Quit
Even though it’s almost contradictory to the advice I gave above, I urge new employees to not spend too much time at a job they truly hate.
If a work environment is really toxic, then no one should be wasting time there. If a job isn’t challenging or contributing to your professional growth in any way, it’s time to quit that job.
What’s challenging for everybody is determining whether a workplace funk is because of external factors, or whether it’s because you’re truly unhappy. If you’re stuck in a job you’ve fallen out of love with, give it a few months. If you continue to be unhappy, just quit. Failure is always an option.
Longevity Will Be Rewarded
In today’s world, employees are just as disloyal to their employers as companies are to their workers. How many of you know someone who’ll go work at a competitor for an extra dollar? By sticking it out, you’ll reap the rewards. Sticking it out becomes difficult because someone never knows when the next opportunity will come along.
This is why a new grad needs to find the best company for them. For some, it will be a new startup. For others, it’ll be the stability of a large corporation. Depending on the type of person you are, either can be the right fit. Just remember to look at more than the number on the employment offer.