New graduates- Welcome to the world of work!
Like many new graduates you are probably looking for a job right now. And, unless you have always known what you have wanted to do, you may well be looking at the dizzying array of opportunities out there, scratching your head, and wondering which direction to go in. Or even feeling that none of the options are right for you. Either way, it’s a healthy position to be in, even if it feels somewhat insecure.
The challenge that you are facing is in making the transition from education to work. We live in a world which imagines that this is a smooth transition, that you can leave college or school one day, start a job the next, and not feel anything more than the mildest of disruptions. Sadly, it isn’t so.
The reality is that work is a far more isolated environment than education. Unless you are lucky enough to join a really good company you are unlikely to experience anything like the same degree of support or encouragement as you did at college. Once the initial euphoria of having a regular income has worn off you are quite likely to feel that you have made the wrong employment choice, and to start thinking of how you can make a change. Yet this, surprisingly, is a good thing.
The problem that you are facing is that you are embarking on a career without ever having received good advice as to which direction is right for you. That has to be the case; until you start working you can’t really tell which of your skills and talents you will enjoy using; any assumptions that you or your career advisors made while you were still in education can turn out to be horribly wrong in practice. It is only when you start full time work that you will be able to really assess what sort of career you want.
This means that your first jobs represent a learning experience for you, and it is important to treat them as such. Unfortunately too many new graduates hang onto the first career choice they make, even though they know instinctively it was not the right one. They press on with the job, maybe making one or two changes, growing ever more disillusioned. Until they wake up one day and ask themselves ‘how did I get here? I don’t want to be here, how do I get out?’ That is not a good place to be, and it is one that you can fairly easily avoid.
Treat you first jobs as an exploration, not a career move. Use them to get a better understanding of your skills, of the tasks you enjoy and the environments you flourish in. Try to experience a range of different roles, work out what is right for you, and what is not. Give it four or five years, change jobs from time to time and really explore. Don’t make a final career decision until you are ready- you will know when that is. It is far better to spend time working out what your ideal career will be than to immerse yourself into something that turns out to be completely wrong.