Devon’s First Day of Work – What is Your Story? ( #postgradlife #jobhunt #firstjob #graduation2015 )

Handsome man in business attire
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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:

From Devon:

  • 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

Staying Employed is Key to Avoid Living with Parents

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A 2014 Gallup survey indicated that 14 percent of all kids graduating from college are living with parents. They continue to rely on their parents for support, even if they find immediate employment post-graduation. With Fall commencement nearing, many parents may find their graduate back in their old bedroom.

Who suffers financially? Mostly the parents who are surprised to find their kids returning home after college graduation because they either can’t find a job or have a job with wages so low that they can’t afford to live on their own while paying down college debt. About 260,000 people who had a college or professional degree made at or below the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour last year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Boomers had hopes to stash away more money in those last few crunch years before retirement but instead must use their extra income to support their children who by now should be financially independent.

Faced with this growing reality, a 2014 article in Fortune magazine discussed how parents are helping their kids network and find a job, and are struggling to determine how far is too far in assisting their graduate.

We don’t magically change once receiving a degree, but hopefully have developed technical competency and communication skills before entering the workforce.

However, the emphasis in college was likely on technical skills development, but many young adults arrive at their first job post degree with a lack of communication and social skills. Colleges include courses on presentation and writing skills in their curriculum, however, training usually stops there, and today’s new employees are left to navigate day-to-day coworker interactions by drawing upon their short brush with socially-accepted work behavior from an internship. Understanding the soft skills can be key to long-term employment.

What kind of support should we ask for from our anxious parents? Ask your parents to share some of their early career experiences but stand on your own by staying employed.

I recently released my first book “First Job: A Personal Career Guide for Graduates.” You will find my personal experiences told through four fictional characters that find themselves in tricky business situations and provides advice on how to prevent them or respond responsibly.

First Job can be read in less than two hours but can impact a new professional during the first two years of work, which is often the most critical for maintaining employment.

For tips on navigating work life and advancing a business career,  visit www.hlpsum1.com/first-job.html to purchase First Job.

Welcoming Blog – Business learning beyond the classroom

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Every year, new college grads hit the job market in search of their dream job.  Armed with the degree, and hopefully an internship or a summer job in their field, they arrive for work unprepared for the trials and challenges of a business setting.  Learning beyond the classroom begins immediately.  This blog series will assist those just starting out in their career by relaying  both positive and difficult lessons learned, and most importantly, how to rebound and grow from your own experiences.