Maybe you have a couple of internships under your belt, or you worked a variety of short-term service jobs throughout high school and college. In any case, you might be heading into your first job after graduation—but you already have experience in a workplace.
You wonder, “How different can it be, really?”
The answer? A lot different.
Let’s dive into the three expectations you should have for your first full-time gig.
1. Most of Your Feedback Will Be Constructive
Your manager wants to help you learn and grow. However, she can’t accomplish those goals with praise alone; after all, you’re going to be tackling a ton of assignments and responsibilities that are completely foreign to you, and it’s inevitable that you’ll make mistakes.
So remember, constructive criticism isn’t designed to hurt your feelings, nor does it mean your boss is disappointed in your performance.
Receive it in the spirit that it’s given—as an opportunity for improvement—and you’ll be much happier, not to mention more successful.
2. Negative Ramifications Are Harder to Spot
If you make bad decisions at school, an internship, or minimum-wage job, the consequences are pretty immediate: a lower grade, a warning from your supervisor, even a termination.
Unwise choices at a full-time job still have consequences, of course, but they’re usually subtler and less obvious.
For example, imagine that your boss asks you to brainstorm some ideas on improving the company’s college fair recruiting strategy. You develop a few unexciting suggestions, get distracted, and abandon the project.
Nothing happens until three weeks later, when he asks to see what you’ve come up with—and doesn’t look too impressed with your answers.
Over time, small errors like these add up, harming your chances of getting a promotion or taking on more significant tasks.
3. You’ll Need to Be Humble
The latest wave of college grads gets a bad rap. You’ve probably read at least a couple of articles criticizing Millennials for being “self absorbed,” “presumptuous,” or “entitled”—and I’m sure you rolled your eyes at how off-base those characterizations are.
Unfortunately, that doesn’t mean you can ignore them. Some of your colleagues will be looking for signs that you fit the “Millennial” mold, which may be unfair, but happens nonetheless. As a result, you’ll need to be on your best behavior. Think of it as a challenge to prove all your critics wrong.
What does “best behavior” look like?
First, you should admit what you don’t know and ask lots of questions. This open approach to learning shows that you’re more concerned with advancing than looking smart. The only exception: Don’t ask a question if you can easily find the answer online.
You should also be eager to pitch in. As one of the lower employees on the totem pole, there isn’t a single task that you’re “too good” for, so whatever comes your way, tackle it with enthusiasm. You can do one better by actively looking for projects to volunteer for.
Lastly, don’t take anything about your role for granted. If you treat your job like a privilege, it’ll show.
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