If you are graduating, recently graduated from College, or have been working for less than two years: Welcome to the real world!
Here are several insights and lessons you would do well to remember as you embark in your search for a job.
1. You will not use most of what you learned in school. The best part of college is not the diploma you receive. Rather, it’s the training for you to think for yourself and learn how to be critical plus the network of friends and people you have accumulated through the years.
2. There is no perfect job. Even if you were the cum laude or Summa Cum Laude of your job, there is no such thing as a perfect job! You may get the job you love but it will not pay you much. You may be offered a high paying job but you may have to compromise some of your views and convictions.
3. Life is difficult. You may have been supported by your parents and siblings in college. But after college, they may pull out their financial support and so you will need to find a job quickly and fend off for yourself. That’s when you realize that life is difficult—there are bills to pay and there’s a lifestyle to support. And life is no longer about waiting for the allowance to arrive.
4. Take care of yourself. Life is difficult and you will find that your friends are slowly drifting away from you because they, too, need to earn money. You can’t rely on your family and siblings just like before. You’re an adult now and you need to take care of yourself. If you still stay with your parents, that does not excuse you from taking care of yourself as opposed to waiting for your parents to do things for you.
5. Know what you believe in. One of my favorite quotations from the Lord of the Rings was spoken by Bilbo Baggins: “It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no knowing where you might be swept off to.” By knowing what you believe in, you keep your feet on the ground and prevent yourself from being swept away by the fads, trends and other opportunities that the world offers.
6. Stand by your beliefs and principles. It’s not enough to know what you believe in. You have to stand by them. When you start working, you will realize that your beliefs and convictions will be put to the test. If you don’t make a commitment to stand by your principles, you will be swept away one minor decision at time, until all that’s left of your principles are hollow shells of what they used to be.
7. Take care of your health. Exercise. Eat the right foods. Don’t binge on food and alcohol. More and more young people are getting afflicted by heart attack and hypertension. So if you don’t establish a healthy lifestyle, you just might hear hypertension and heart attack knocking at the door of your heart.
8. Keep learning. Your education did not stop with your college graduation. In fact, it’s only just begun! Do you ever wonder why graduation is called “Commencement Exercises”? That’s because you are commencing a new journey. Read. Listen to the advice of others. Process, evaluate and reflect on your experiences. That’s how you will grow as a person and as a professional.
9. Upgrade yourself. You are your own investment. Invest in your learning. Enroll in workshops. Read blogs (like mine). Get some books that will help you become a better professional. And most importantly, APPLY these lessons to your life and career!
On Career and Professional Growth
10. Passions are your starting point. Pursuing your passion is overrated. They are but your starting point. You also need to evaluate if you have the right skills and if there is a market that will enjoy your passion and your skills.
11. You can get hired more quickly through your connections. While Classified Ads and Online job portals could help you get a job, the best way to get hired is still through your connections. Your friends and acquaintances could point you to the right jobs and vouch for your excellence (or lack thereof).
12. Tailor-fit your resume to your target employer. Don’t just send your ready-made, one-size-fits-all resume or Curriculum vitae to your target employer. Research about your employer and present yourself as somebody who is of the right fit for the company/organization.
13. Conduct a personal inventory. List down your skills, talents and educational attainment. You will also need to include your organizational affiliations, your interests, as well as your hobbies—they can sometimes be a good connecting point with the person who will interview you for the job.
14. Your looks and presentation matter. Although young professionals no longer need to dress up in dress shirts and neckties, you still have to make yourself presentable. Look professional and you will be confident walking into the office.
15. Have a personal strategic plan. Think about your life plan, your purpose and directions. You may not have the details right now. But as long as you know where you are going and what you want from life, it would then be easier for you to make career and life decisions.
16. Be excellent right away. Don’t wait for the “right time” to be excellent. The right time is NOW. Show your aptitude. Use your skills well. And if you don’t have the skills, learn them then use them.
17. Go get a job. Don’t wait for the perfect one. Just go get a job. Learn as much as you can from that job. Upgrade your skills and your talents and even if you don’t love your job, you can still benefit from it by learning patience and perseverance.
18. Dream big! Dreaming is free. So you might as well dream big. Sure, you may get frustrated if you cannot attain it. Yet, if you aim for the stars and you move out of the pit or the gutter, it would certainly be a better place for you. Put in another way, if you aim for the stars and ended up in the moon, that’s not such a bad deal either!
19. Dreams have a price. If you are serious in pursuing your dreams, you have to be willing to pay the price. There’s no such thing as a free lunch. Dreams, especially the big ones, require lots of efforts, resources and time. You cannot wait for the heavens to deliver your dream to you. You have to pursue it and chase it until it becomes yours and it comes true!
20. Don’t be afraid to pursue and pay for your dreams. Fear can immobilize you and keep you from pursuing your dreams. That is, if you allow it to. As a new graduate, you don’t have much to lose. So don’t be afraid to pursue and pay for your dreams—if you risk it, you just might get it!
21. Be an entrepreneur. Be on the lookout for opportunities. If you are not called to become an employee, you may be called to become an entrepreneur and a businessman.
22. Actively search for and grab the opportunities that come along. Opportunities will come a-knocking at your door. Sometimes, though, it will simply pass you by unless you keep your eyes open. Be mindful of the opportunities that will come your way. God blesses the people who are on the lookout for opportunities.
23. Don’t be afraid to switch jobs if you must. Gone are the days of lifetime employees. Young people nowadays switch from one job to another. If you have to switch jobs and pursue a new career, don’t be afraid to do so. That may be the means for your growth. Don’t overdo it though. You can hurt your career by too many career switches.
24. Save up right away. Don’t spend all your money on clothes and gadgets. Save up at least twenty percent of your income. Pay your social security membership. Learn the ropes of investment and savings. You cannot cope with the economy unless you save and invest your money.
25. Take care and take charge of your government-mandated benefits and memberships. For starters, you will need to be a member of the Social Security System. You also need to pay taxes, as well as your health insurance. Take care of them and you will reap the benefits in time.
26. Don’t borrow money. As much as possible, avoid borrowing money from your relatives or from the bank. If you cannot handle it well, they can get you neck-deep in debt. Be particularly careful in using credit cards and other credit facilities.
27. Don’t keep up with the Joneses. You don’t need to buy all the latest gadgets and posh clothes. Life is not a competition. Nor is it a fashion show. Do not allow yourself to become materialistic and ostentatious.
28. You will face failures and frustrations. Prepare for them. Mistakes. Failures. Frustrations. They are all a part of life. Without them, we would not have heard great music or great poetry. Treat your frustrations, mistakes and failures as stepping stones. You’ll make enough of them and you will eventually reach the heights you’ve dreamed of.
29. Live below your means. Set aside a lot of money for savings. Then invest them. That’s how you can thrive in this world even if your pay is not very high.
Life after college is an exciting time. You learn a lot about yourself and you learn to stand up and take care of yourself. It’s the beginning of the rest of your life and you can certainly improve your life and situation through hard work, excellence and perseverance.