Your First Job is Practice – Advice for December Grads

It’s that time of year again! You’re preparing for December commencement. I had the experience of graduating in spring, so my job search experience was short and sweet. As you gear up for the holiday season remember that Sallie Mae waits on no one. Getting employed after college is a major thing, so I don’t want you to go into it blindly.

When I applied for jobs I was looking for positions in two industries. Because of my major concentration and work ethic, I could have worked in just about any area of communications. I landed a marketing job. Here’s where the advice comes in.

Don’t take a job that is new to the company if you a) don’t really care for the city it’s located in and b) leadership is mediocre (at best). Had I taken a marketing specialist job at a new startup in New York that was ran by Oprah, I would probably still be working there. Scratch the probably. I definitely would have like, duh, it’s Oprah.

Where you decide to apply for jobs and who you work with/for are two major keys to first job success. I thrive around winners. I feed off of positive energy. Basic respect and consideration is what I need to succeed in my work environment. If I’m working for pretentious pricks who have not had any success in their own careers, I’m unhappy. Learn what works for you, though. The last thing you want to do is spend 12-18 months losing with losers. Your first job serves as a lesson for you. You’ll learn what you like, what you don’t like and also where your skills shine! Don’t waste your practice time with terrible coaches. You can’t win the big game that way.

Also, don’t get hung up on salaries. Definitely go for what you’re worth, but keep in mind that your salary in Knoxville, TN might look very different from a job in Houston. The goal is to not get too comfortable anyway, right? Find a position and a company that will help you grow so that one day you’ll get paid the big bucks. Having a realistic amount for what you want to live on and where you can achieve that goal will save you so much drama… trust me on that!

Speaking of growth, make sure you can grow at the company you’re eyeing. Don’t just take the interviewers word for it. Do your research. If people drop like flies or there is any negative speech of the employer, chances are leadership sucks and people are underpaid. Quick tip: People who get paid and promoted usually don’t bad mouth their employers. You’ll know what I’m talking about if you get into a horrible company culture or talk to people who hate their jobs.

Lastly, think short-term. Your first job doesn’t have to be your only job ever. Sometimes things just don’t work out. Your skill set will evolve. Your interests will change. Don’t base your whole professional worth on your first job. The goal of your first job is to get in and move up, or get out and move on to bigger and better things. Don’t worry, that decision will be made for you in the first six months of your new gig. Like I said… it’s practice.

If I had to do it all over again, I wouldn’t change a thing. Actually I would, but I wouldn’t be the second job having, wise word typing chick that I am today. Our most horrific experiences in life make us better. The same is true for your professional life. 40+ years from now I can say that I gave my blood, sweat and tears to build a lucrative career for myself… and guess what! You will say the same thing, too.

Happy job hunting!


Published by Keiana Holleman

Proud HBCU alumna with a degree in communications seeking to change the world through writing, marketing, and social media!

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