After years of studying and bearing through the sermons of your parents, guardians, teachers, department chairs, you are finally graduating from college!
Amid the hype of taking that final exam, fitting your toga, planning your graduation outfit and party, and scheduling your celebratory travel, is the looming reality that soon you would have to stand on your own two feet and earn your own keep.
Suddenly it dawns on you that the day after your graduation, everything you demanded and took for granted turns into a privilege. Your parent or guardian is no longer in any obligation to house you, do your laundry, give you gas money or maintenance for your car, feed you, or pay for your hospital bills.
Technically speaking, it is now only through the goodness of their hearts that they may choose to continue helping you out.
That realization can be both exhilarating and terrifying.
Finally, the independence you long for is at hand. Wearing rose-colored glasses, you can see your CV and application letter getting prioritized for interview immediately after you sent them.
You fantasize how you’re going to wow your interviewers, companies tripping over themselves to hire you. You imagine yourself getting into the job you love and getting a salary big enough to pay not only for your own condo unit and car amortization but also for your monthly clothes shopping and annual travels.
You picture yourself confidently meeting beautiful and interesting people who will all fall in love with you and would get mesmerized with your excellent work skills. You imagine yourself rising into the ladder of success, but you do so through riding an air-conditioned glass elevator.
There’s nothing wrong with this picture. We could all use some positive thinking. After all, we’ve been taught that we attract what we focus on. But it’s also practical to be realistic. As some say, use your heart but take your brain with you. Here are some facts to remember:
Fact 1: You have to stand out in order to be hired. And I don’t mean standing out in terms only of your credentials or your modeling-worthy picture. You can only stand out if you have done your due diligence.
Research, research, research. You have to give what is being asked by the job you’re applying for. Customize your application by finding out whether the company and the people in charge of hiring would want you to submit a CV or a résumé (know the difference between the two).
Find out their culture. This would give you an idea as to the questions that might be asked and the way the interview would go. Phrase your letter in a language to the tone of the mission and vision of the company. Write in a way that would highlight how you would make an impact on your job.
As a new graduate, you have to rise beyond your lack of experience by capitalizing on the things you have learned from school and from your internship. In selling yourself, avoid cliché words like hard-working, a multi-tasker, creative, or team-player. Give examples or specific duties that expressed these qualities instead.
Fact 2: Don’t romanticize your first job. It’s not fair. All kinds of work have challenges, office politics, lean seasons, and uncertainties. You have to give ample time to adjust to the real-world environment of a workplace. You have to allow yourself to awaken and be part of the solution to the gap of what is happening in the workplace and what has been advocated as ideal.
This is why you can’t be indiscriminately submitting your applications to any vacancy there is. Time is part of the deal. Know your risk and benefits if you do get hired.
Human Resource personnel raise red flags when they see employment records of short-term commitments. It gives the impression of instability and lack of direction. Remember that your first job, and every job that comes after, will become part of your permanent employment record.
Fact 3: Learning comes before earning. Arrogance when you are just starting out is going to cost you. Know your place. Sure, you can share your innovative ideas but do it in the most respectful manner, giving due credit to the experiences of people who have come before you.
Take advantage of what others can share with you. Allow yourself to be mentored. No matter what, there is a lesson to be learned. When you feel like you need to grow in another environment, do so without burning bridges. Render the same amount of courtesy, responsibility, and respect as when you came in.
With your first job, you will discover more of yourself and life. Don’t be afraid of the journey. Whether you choose to stay in it until retirement or take another adventure, love every aspect of it and make memories you can fondly look back in the future.