Dear College Senior: Expectation Versus Reality of Life in the Workforce

In just a few short months, a new class of graduates will leave their beloved college campuses to become part of the workforce. Here are 3 things I didn’t expect or understand before starting my first job:

1. The quality of your boss is just as important as the quality of your job

When I was interviewing for my first job, it didn’t occur to me that I should be interviewing my future boss almost as intently as I was being interviewed myself. Think about it: You are about to spend at least 5 days per week in constant communication and collaboration with another person. Not only is it important that you have good chemistry with your boss, but he or she simply needs to be good at being a boss. Managing people is a skill that can come naturally or be trained, but having the title ‘manager’ does not necessarily mean that someone possesses that skill. A good boss will treat you as an equal who deserves to be appreciated with just as much energy as they use to train you and enhance your productivity. 76% of Millennials report that they would leave a job if they felt unappreciated. That’s because our humanity is important to us, and, I believe, rightfully so.

When searching for your first job, worry less about what you’ll be doing, and worry more about who you will be learning under. Find someone who will honor you as an equal just as intensely as he or she values your ability to produce.

2. Being able to stay up all night doesn’t translate to being able to stay up all day

Transitioning into a workday schedule can be exhausting. You’re coming from college, where you only ever needed to maintain focus on any one thing for about an hour and a half. Your brain got big chunks of time in between classes during the day to recover and grow. Coffee was just something you used to study for an exam. At work, you’ll be expected to stay focused and alert all. day. long. In the winter, you’ll leave for work when it’s dark outside, and you won’t get home until it’s dark again. Coffee will become a necessity rather than a treat. Little activities like exercise or seeing friends after work might feel like jobs in and of themselves, only because you’ll be so damn tired.

But never fear! Your brain is awesome, and it will adapt to your new schedule, eventually. Go easy on yourself if all you want to do after work is sit on the couch.

3. Just because you’ve graduated, doesn’t mean it’s time to stop studying

Your degree might help get you an interview, but it won’t make you good at your job. Before you start your first job, make sure you can accept the fact that you don’t know it all (if anything). Yes, you will have great ideas that will impress your superiors and instigate incredible innovation, but ideas aren’t the only thing necessary to run a business. There’s a lot that goes into a company, and you probably don’t yet understand a fraction of it.

Arrive on your first day ready to learn, and never shake that mentality!

Interested in getting some real-world experience or know someone who may be? We are officially accepting applications for our summer internship.

Statistic credit: Forbes