First Jobs Can Be Precedent Setting

photo-1427088625471-da8a7193afd3-5.jpgYour first job is very important as you depart from campus. If you have done a great search, you not only have a job, but it is the first step in a career that you are very excited about. It should be an area or industry that will grow over the course of your working years, so as you become great, opportunity abounds. That first job also can be precedent setting as well. Let’s face it, when you leave campus you don’t really know a lot (sorry if I am hurting your feelings, but please hear me out). What employers are betting on is that you are a highly malleable quick learner with huge potential, who will be great to work with. They look both to your on and off campus experience to validate that. Then they select you, and are willing to invest in you and to train you.

Here is the precedent setting part. As you go through entry-level training, you begin to figure out the basics of your profession. You start to see not only how to do your job, but how it fits into the organization and the industry or profession as a whole.  As your knowledge advances, you become more valuable and rewards come your way. This can be in the form of compensation, recognition, advancement or fulfillment, for example. You begin the proverbial climb up the ladder.

Once you move forward, it is difficult and often financially impossible to start over again in a new industry or profession due to a reduction in pay. Also, you may not want to ‘start all over again.’

So what’s the lesson (and I might add, cautionary tale) here? You need to engage in a broad discovery process and complete a strong job search in your campus years. It needs to be one that lands you in a place where you select a role that aligns to a career trajectory that excites you. 

Who could blame you if you were excited to merely get ‘a job’ upon graduation? Statistics show only 30% of students graduate college (with a four year degree) within six years or less, AND get a job that required ‘college’ (not necessarily their own major). Where did I get that number?

  • Only 59% of students get a four year degree in six years or less
  • Only 49.7% of those graduates get a job that requires ‘a degree

So the fact you got ‘a job’ is (excuse the pun) ‘a job well done.’ But, how to find a good first job that aligns to your passion is another story. Students would be wise to:

  • Broaden their job discovery process during their campus years (you have to work at this every year you’re there)
  • Engage in projects and internships that test the notion that this is really what you want to do
  • Utilize informational interviews to enhance the discovery process
  • Research your specific profession’s viability over the next 30-40 years so that you know it suits your needs

So there is much more to it than ‘getting a job.’