When you’re in college, you are constantly dreaming about what your career will look like post-college. Will I be killing it at a trendy PR company in NYC? Or at a large corporation in Miami? Maybe a local business near my hometown? As a public relations major, I felt like I had a lot of options. Did I want to go into marketing, PR, journalism, focus on social media, or pursue freelancing?
It’s honestly so exciting to daydream about the possibilities of your job. However, your first job after college admittedly might not be that dream you were always thinking it to be. Though I was so excited to start my first “big girl” job, there were some growing pains. Here are just a few things I wish I had known before starting my very first job post-grad.
Your First Job might not be your dream job
I know this one might come as a shocker. Most fresh grads don’t land their dream job right out of school. I applied for jobs for over two months! You can’t always be super picky about what job you accept. With that being said, it’s important to outline your career path and be aware of the experience you will need now to get where you want to go!
Don’t forget the worth of your time
In college, we have so many time commitments that we are hyper-aware when we commit to something. After you graduate and you no longer have homework and only work one job, it might feel weird having more free time than you used to. With that extra time that you would normally spend working on homework, it’s easy to overwork yourself as you strive to make a good impression on your boss and team.
While you, of course, want to work your hardest and show that you have initiative, it’s also so important that you remember to take time for YOU. Your time is valuable and if you are putting in a significant amount of overtime it might be a good idea to consult with your boss and see where you can cut back to still have time for yourself. You don’t want to burn yourself out!
Working with Others at Your First Job
Duh, you’ll be working with others. But what about when you don’t get along with someone you report to or work with? My advice to you is to remain professional with everyone, whether they’re your best friends or you don’t get along with them at all. You never know who is watching you for a promotion or who will give you the right recommendation to land your next job!
It’s okay not to know what you’re doing
For real! Although I like to appear as someone who “has it all together” (whatever that looks like) sometimes you just have to admit that you don’t know what the heck you’re doing. In my first job after college, there were a lot of conversations with my boss where he would ask if I knew how to do something and I would say, “No, but I can learn!” What does that look like? That looks like googling how to do everything, being creative with your problem-solving, and finding free online courses.
In the PR and marketing world there is a whole other language of lingo that apparently they don’t teach you in college (or maybe I just didn’t pick up on it… ). Don’t be afraid to just ask people what they are talking about or ask them to explain further. Most work environments are going to recognize that you are new to the professional world and they will answer your questions and help you adjust – you just have to ask! Trust me, you’ll pick up on it all quickly – after all, you’re fully immersed in it for 40 hours a week!
At the end of the day, your first job doesn’t have to be your forever job — and that’s okay! Don’t underestimate the power of networking with those in your field. You never know who you’re going to meet and what role they will play in the next steps of your career path.
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This article was originally posted August 25, 2020.