So, you finally celebrated your graduation?
This year, I “celebrated” 10 years since my university graduation—which means I’ve been working for 10 years, too. I’ve gotten to the point where interns and fresh graduates automatically attach a “miss” to my name. And every time I hear it, I’m brought back to my first job.
I was a fresh two-days-from-graduation youngling, wearing corporate clothes and entering a corporate office. I had already met everyone I would be working with, but every time a “sir” or “miss” left my lips, I was given stares. None of those late-20s to early-30s “adults” wanted to hear it—in the same way I don’t like hearing it now.
Needless to say, I think I have some right to give the graduating class some words of wisdom.
Don’t be in a rush after graduation
A lot of our graduating interns were stressed about finding the right job straight out of university. They were sending resumes left and right, already attending interviews. My question is: Why the rush?
Take it from someone who didn’t take a break and took the first job that offered me a salary because of that same stress you’re currently experiencing. There is no rush.
Spend some time finding out what you truly love to do, and what you’re willing to do. Hone your craft, build a portfolio, review your thesis, self-study. It doesn’t have to be long, but take some time for yourself; this will be your last chance for a while.
Ask the right questions
And no, I do not mean the questions that you’ve been trained to ask your interviewer. I mean questions like:
- What are my priorities right now?
- Do I want a mentor or a boss?
- What kind of environment do I want for myself?
- Am I ready for the work force?
- What kind of support do I have right now, and how can I effectively (but not advantageously) make use of them?
Don’t lose “it”
That special something in you—whatever it is; writing, marketing, math, content creation—that you can offer your future employer will not disappear just because you aren’t in class or using them in the professional sense. Just because you have no deadline or someone to submit your work to doesn’t mean you aren’t getting better. Like I said earlier, you can (and should) self-hone your craft. Dig deep into it, find your weakness and work on it. Get the basics down.
There’s no shame in getting out
Whatever situation or place you find yourself in next, understand that there’s no shame in getting out. You’re allowed to change your mind—and you shouldn’t ignore your gut feeling either. I stuck with my first job for an three years just because I thought it would look bad on my resume if I resigned any earlier, and those extra months are still something I regret.
Just make sure you aren’t quitting because it’s “too hard.” You will constantly be learning, and that’s a good thing. But if it ever gets to the point that you’re sacrificing your mental health, physical health, happiness or other opportunities, then ring the bell and close the door.
Most importantly: Listen
I know you just had your graduation and you’re probably feeling on top of the world and like you can conquer anything—and you can. But in the midst of all that celebration of yourself, don’t forget that others know a little bit more than you. Maybe they do things differently or approach a problem a different way than you, and that’s fine. Take cues and pick up on them before injecting yourself and how you do things. Make it a point to meet in the middle. There’s a reason why they do things, okay?
RELATED: Are Millennials Really Okay?
10 years in the workforce might not seem like much and I’m definitely a long way from retirement, but I’ve learned a few things along the way that no one ever really sat me down to talk about. So this is just me, talking to those of you who just had your graduation, about things I would have wanted to know.
Art Macky Arquilla