Devon was so excited to have a job offer come through. Best email ever received! All the work he had put into college was finally paying off. He will have enough money to buy more than a burrito at Chipotle, books and beer money. He was eligible for a car loan without a cosigner, and could pick up his first new car next week. Aahh – it will be nice to have a “real” grownup apartment away from campus too! Once he gave his verbal to the recruiter before Spring break, he thought he could cruise for a while and enjoy springtime on campus.
Last week, more emails began to roll in from his new employer. Every time he opened them, he felt apprehensive. His parents had helped him to fill out that monster form for the FAFSA, but this seemed worse. The company sent documents weekly and expected a response right away. He felt like he was agreeing to terms at the new company that he didn’t understand, and wondered how it would affect him later.
Devon’s story may sound very familiar to you. It certainly reflected my story. I remember sitting down with a HR representative who gave me a pen and said “sign here”! The only explanation provided was either “you have no choice” (code of conduct policy), or, “this one will be good for you” (enrolling into a 401K plan).
At some point we all start out in an entry-level position and meet new people and are handed new assignments. The first time you start a “real” job is the most unsettling. Your career may begin working in an office, a laboratory, or a shop floor. Perhaps you accepted a position as a sales representative, or an account manager, or working in a retail environment. There is common ground. We need to communicate well. We have to work in teams. We are expected to perform. We have profit and loss responsibilities for business, or may even be given the responsibility for someone’s life. The consequences of improper action could be serious. What if I do the wrong thing, and will I even know?
Graduates are trained with skills in an area of study, but understanding company work rules and the complexities of coworker relationships will be new. In my experience with interns and new hires, here are some common questions I encounter:
- When can I have a day off of work?
- Am I allowed to talk to employees outside of my department?
- What is my assignment and when is it due?
From the hiring manager:
- Why doesn’t Devon respond to emails?
- How much time do I need to spend with him the first week?
- What work shall I give him to get started, without overwhelming him?
Likely, everyone will be a little nervous. Many companies have new-hire training programs. However, no one can really predict or train on how department relationships and work assignments will be managed – each situation is unique. My advice to the new hire – be friendly, ask questions regarding what is expected of you, get busy right away, and listen closely.
I invite you to join the LinkedIn Group called First Job After College, and share your experiences regarding funny “First Day” stories, or ask questions about what to expect on your first day, and receive advice from experienced workers.
About Joyce Jarek: Joyce Jarek Mihalik is a business leader in the real estate industry, creator of HlpSum1® Inc., and author of First Job: A Personal Career Guide for Graduates. She enjoys mentoring her own team, and coaching new graduates who are entering the workforce and starting their first real job after college. To purchase First Job, visit www.hlpsum1.com/first-job.html About Joyce Jarek: Joyce Jarek Mihalik is a business leader in the real estate industry, creator of HlpSum1® Inc., and author of First Job: A Personal Career Guide for Graduates. She enjoys mentoring her own team, and coaching new graduates who are entering the workforce and starting their first real job after college. To purchase First Job, visit www.hlpsum1.com/first-job.html