What College Grads Don’t Know About the Working World
Many recent college grads leave the halls of their classrooms with a fresh, eager zest for the working world. Many send resumes to multiple job openings, attend job fairs in their spiffy new suits, and go to interviews expecting both the best and the worst. What recent grads don’t know is that the working world is way different than college. It’s also way different than it was ten years ago.
Current employers could care less about your college courses, unless if you studied something very specific such as Engineering or Computer Science. You can’t learn how to run a business from a book, that’s why most employers will hardly look at your resume if you don’t have work experience.
So instead of approaching the business world with what you consider to be “business expertise,” approach your employers and coworkers with a desire to learn. Even if you know you’re a Microsoft Excel whiz and you can run circles around everyone in your office, Pretend that they know so much more than you. Win people over by – here’s the kicker – acting “stupid.” Admit to your lack of experience. Trust me, this will win your co-workers over as they will be very eager to “teach” you the things they have learned.
Remember, people are not always going to want to “be your friend.” You will have friendly coworkers. But other coworkers will go out of their way to avoid you, bad-mouth you, or even try to make you look bad. Your first few weeks in an entry level position may feel a lot like a Fraternity or Sorority hazing period. No one is going to congratulate you for a “job well done” every time you do something right. So, keep your head down, be polite, and do your work. Over time, this will pass and you’ll be able to pick your allies.
Ten years ago competition for jobs was less intense. Recent grads received at least $5,000-$10,000 more per year than they are offered today. For example, an Entry Level Business Analyst was offered about $50,000 per year in 2004, whereas today he or she might be offered $40,000. Ten years ago, internships were easy to come by, and many employers ran to college campuses to fight over the best candidates.
Probably the most important thing every new grad should know is that food wins every game of office politics. Are you looking for a promotion? Are you looking for higher pay? Maybe you want more of your coworkers to like you. Bring in cake! Bring in cookies! Have your Grandma Sophie make a delicious casserole or pot pie. People in the working world are naturally comfortable in their office chairs. They love comfort food, especially free comfort food.
And lastly, young college grads should remember that a job is just a job. Leave your work at work. After my fourth month of working full time, my director, who has been working in Human Resources in over 20 years, came up to me and said, “Don’t take this job too seriously, dear. Remember, family is most important.” Her words still ring true to me today. If you start working in your early 20s, you want to be able to live up those precious years before 30. Remember to make time for friends, family, hobbies, and personal goals.