When you graduate from college, you are entitled to have a little pride in that accomplishment. After all, while approximately 88% of the population graduates from high school, only 1/3 of the adult population reports holding a bachelor’s degree or higher. Earning that college degree means that you have been successful working your life plan. You had a goal, you took action to achieve the goal, and you deserve to celebrate that success.
You also deserve to celebrate if you landed a job in your chosen career field before graduation day or shortly after. Even in a good job market, only about 21% of college graduates have a job offer in their career field when they graduate. If you have a job offer when you don your cap and gown, it most likely means that you have done well in your studies, maybe even performing at the top of your class.
So, it makes sense that you would go into your new job with a sense of pride and accomplishment. Your head is filled with theoretical knowledge from your four years of study, and you may even have some practical experience through an internship or work study program. You definitely know your stuff, and you are ready to take the company or organization to the next level. You might even feel like you could teach your new colleagues a thing or two. After all, some of the more experienced (i.e. older) workers are still using flip phones and trying to figure out how to do formulas in Excel. Your boss is still keeping his calendar in a notebook instead of using technology. Move over, folks, the new girl/guy knows best!
And . . . this is one reason you will earn and bad reputation and fail to win friends in your new job. While you may come in with new ideas and thoughts about how things should be done, you must realize that, for now, you are the low man (or woman) on the totem pole. You may not think your colleagues, or even your boss, are handling things in the best manner, but how you voice that opinion could find you in a bad spot with your new company.
CBS Moneywatch outlines four reasons that college graduates fail at their new jobs, and two of them—acting like you’ve paid your dues and not being a team player—relate directly to thinking you are “hot stuff” at your new job. You may have been at the top of your class, graduated from the top university, or had a fabulous internship. But, when you walk through those doors, you are at the bottom of the heap. Everyone there has put in more hours for the company or organization than you have. They have a level of practical experience in your chosen career field that it will take you some time to build. You may know what the books say, but face it, they have been doing this work on the ground. It’s time to be humble and learn from them. They are also your new team. Even that guy who doesn’t know how to use Excel, or the boss who is still using a desk calendar to keep up with his appointments, are people that you have to get along with and work with. They may be from a different generation, but their generation built your career field—even if it’s technology-based. So, cut them some slack, get humble, and realize that you can learn from your colleagues as much, or more, than they can learn from you.
Another piece of the pride pie that can sabotage your first job is thinking that you are entitled to benefits or should be given a level of deference that you have not earned. It may be okay at the college level to be a few minutes late to class or to ask the professor if you can leave 5 minutes early on Fridays because you have a yoga class. This probably won’t be okay when you take your first job. If you were hired for specific work hours, those are the work hours. You won’t be able to just be late because you needed an extra hour of sleep or to skip because your best friend is in town. You may also think that you work more efficiently than your colleagues, so it shouldn’t matter if you take a break to shop or play a game online. After all, as long as you eventually get the work done, they shouldn’t care. This is the wrong attitude to have. While some companies may be okay with you taking these types of “brain breaks,” it’s probably not a good idea to think you are entitled to them right off the bat.
So, with everything you’ve learned from LifePlans about setting goals and taking actions that will help you reach those goals, how can you set yourself up for success at your new job? The key is to revisit the basics and add on to your life plan. Landing the job is not the end; it’s the beginning.
Set a new vision for yourself. Where do you see this job going? Are you planning to move up in this company, or is this a stepping-stone to something different? Once you have your vision, then you have to determine the actions you need to take to move you closer to that vision. Want to move up in this company? Then, yes, you may want to impress those around you with your ideas, but you don’t need to insult them or their intelligence at the same time. Think about how you can offer suggestions and new ideas in a way that builds on teamwork and helping each other. Want to eventually move from this company to another? You will need these people. Your new colleagues have a network in this career field that you have not yet established. They will be the people who help you make contacts and who can give you a reference for that next job. To get where you want to be, you have to always be willing to learn from those around you, and consider how they are helping you along your life’s path.
So, as you begin your new job, yes, feel pride. But, also take a slice of humble pie and realize that you are only at the beginning and you still have much to learn. Everyone in your new organization can help you along the way.
Dickler, J. (May 2016). College grads enjoy the best job market in years. CNBC. Retrieved from http://www.cnbc.com/2016/05/16/college-grads-enjoy-the-best-job-market-in-years.html
Levin-Epstein, A. (February 2012). Four mistakes college grads make at their first job. Moneywatch. CBS. Retrieved from http://www.cbsnews.com/news/4-mistakes-college-grads-make-at-their-first-job/
Ryan, C.L. & Bauman, K. (March 2016). Educational attainment in the united states: 2015. United States Census Bureau. United State Department of Commerce. Retrieved from http://www.census.gov/content/dam/Census/library/publications/2016/demo/p20-578.pdf