As I’ve mentioned numerous times before in other blog posts…I’m new to this whole “being an adult” thing. And as I come across my four month anniversary in the working world…I’ve started to think about what I wish I would’ve know before entering the workforce. Now, there are many things. But, the number one thing that I wish I would’ve know is that there’s a very big difference between a “job” and a “career.” See below…
College lies to you, and internships lie to you. The real world isn’t anything like either one of them. When I was in college, I was told that maybe classes wouldn’t teach me about the real world, but that’s what internships were for. WRONG AGAIN! I had four internships while I was in college, and not one of them adequately prepared me for the shit storm called, “real life.” And let’s face it. When you’re an intern, companies don’t trust you. And that’s fair! You’re not an actual employee; you’re a temp; you’ll be gone within months. So, what do they do? They give all the “shit work” that they don’t have time to do on a regular basis.
When I had my internships, I thought I received extreme value from them. The companies that I worked for really let me “take the wheel” and provided great mentorship. But the fact of the matter is, when you’re an intern, you don’t have that “weight of the world on your shoulders” feeling like you do when you’re out in the workforce. As an intern, you step in for a bit, arrive early, do whatever they ask you to, and after a few months, you leave. So, if a problem comes up that you feel can’t be solved, you take it to your internship supervisor, and they deal with it.
And, of course, that’s not how the real world works. In the real world, the main reason your boss hired you is because they have a problem that they can’t fix, and they want YOU to solve it. So, if you’re constantly going to your boss saying “I don’t know…” they may let you go.
And that’s the unfortunate thing about internships, college students are never truly on the other side of the table. When I was at my internships, I remember thinking, Yeesh! I wouldn’t want my boss’s job. All I would ever do is worry.” I never actually experienced the kind of stress that any of them had to deal with on a regular basis.
I think that another part of the reason I never fully understood what it was like to have a “real job” before I actually got one, was because of the word, “job.”
In a lot of the career courses that you take in college, and even in regular courses, when you talk about the “job” that you’ll have after you graduate, that’s what it’s always referenced as, “a job.” When I went to school, it was rarely referred to as a “career.” And when you hear the word “job,” what do you think of? For me, I thought: you work from 9-5, go home, eat dinner, exercise, watch some TV, go to sleep, wake up, do it again. And then the weekend would come, and you get to spend it however you wanted. You’re freer than a bird.
WRONG AGAIN! What they don’t tell you in college is that the definition that I just described is the definition of a “job.” And a job is probably a place that you won’t stay at for awhile. An example of a job is working as a cashier at a department store. When you graduate from college and start working at a “bachelor’s degree level”…you don’t have a job, you have a career. In a career, you wake up early, you arrive an hour before you’re supposed to, you work through lunch, you leave an hour after you should have, you take your work home with you, and on weekends, you’re checking your work email and working on work related projects..BIG DIFFERENCE.
When you have a career, you need to be devoted to the company that you’re working for. Kind of like when you’re in a relationship. You can’t just be in a relationship from 9-5, Monday-Friday. You’re in that relationship 24/7, 365. And this is for every higher level position that you have after college, even if you start out as an entry-level individual. You’re going to need to be there for your company like you would for your significant other.
So, after all this negative talk, what’s my advice for someone approaching their college graduation and looking for their first position?
DO NOT settle! Just don’t! Before I graduated, I was applying for anything and everything under the sun. I wanted to start working right after I finished school because I wanted money and at least some form of experience. WRONG! Don’t just take any job off of the street. So you’re unemployed for awhile, or you have to resort to picking up some hours at a department store. Take some time to really look through positions and make sure that you are going after what YOU WANT.
Take me for example. Now, I like my position, and I’m getting used to it more and more every day, but do I wish that I had calmed down after graduation and taken more time to look at other opportunities? I’ll admit it, yes. When I was interviewing for my current position, I had my final interview with my current supervisor and the head of HR. My supervisor made me feel like an idiot during the interview. Now, she was being harsh because she was testing me to make sure that I would be able to stand working in their type of environment, and under pressure; which is understandable. But after the interview was over, I ran to my car and balled like a baby. I felt like I just been slapped across the face and screamed at. And when they called me a week later and offered me the position, I was in shock. But, I accepted it anyway because all I saw were the dollar signs attached to the job description. I didn’t know what the company culture was like, and I didn’t know my benefits. All I knew was who my supervisor was going to be, a rough idea of what my duties were, and how much I was going to be making.
Looking back, I feel like a complete idiot, and since then there have been other opportunities that have popped up that I almost wish I could take advantage of. Although, on the brighter side, I am learning a whole lot, and the people that I work with are too good to be true!
And, there are going to be ups and downs in every position. But before you accept an offer, ask about the company culture, even ask them to take you on a tour of the facilities and meet people that you’re directly going to be working with. Ask what a typical day looks like for someone in the position that you’re applying for, and ask the company what a successful candidate would look like and bring to the table. ASK TONS OF QUESTIONS and don’t be afraid of asking those questions. Because if it’s a good fit, you’ll wake up every morning satisfied and your “work” won’t feel so labor intensive.
So, to my college grads, happy job hunting!
Granny Smith- over and out