The Minnesota School of Business graduation is right around the corner. It’s a time for celebration. It’s time to revel in all the future has to offer. It’s a time to be proud of your accomplishments, to thank everyone who made it possible, and to bask in your success.
It’s also time to get real. As in, you’re about to be part of the real world. What you’ve done by graduating is amazing. I’m proud of you. We’re proud of you. Everyone is proud of you. You should be proud of yourself, for sure. But your education and learning isn’t over. Entering the real world will be a whole new learning opportunity. I want to help prepare you. This lesson might sting a little, though. So get ready.
You’re going to have to settle. Let’s not take away from the fact that earning a degree is hugely important and that you are truly going places. But you likely won’t be there just yet. There’s still work to be done. I bet if you conduct an informal survey of everyone you know, or randomly meet on the street, you’ll find that people don’t get their dream job their first job out of college. It’s a fact. You have to earn your way to that position, just like you had to earn your degree. So you get a job offer that’s 10k lower than what you thought you should get and the title includes the word “assistant.” Dream job? Maybe not. A foot in the door? Yes. Shove that foot in, prove your worth and value, and you’ll get there. Eventually.
Your boss is worse than your meanest teacher. She might smile at you and compliment you. She might have a ton of things in common with you. She might be the friendliest person you’ve ever met, but she isn’t going to let it slide when you say you lost your keys and couldn’t get to work. She isn’t going to buy it when you say your computer crashed and you couldn’t turn in your report on time. You won’t lose points on an assignment – you will lose your job.
You don’t deserve anything. Ok, that’s not entirely true. You deserve food, shelter, and the pursuit of happiness and all that good stuff. You deserve a level of respect. Beyond those basic things, you aren’t entitled to anything. So it’s just better to grasp that concept right now. You deserve an office and not a cube? Nope. You deserve to be paid X amount? Maybe someday. Wrap your head around this, and life will be a whole lot easier to handle on a daily basis.
People notice your work ethic (or lack thereof). When you work hard and put your everything into something, people take note. Your boss will notice that you stay a little late in order to complete a task. Know what else people notice? When you text or play Candy Crush on your phone under your desk. Or talk to your husband on G-chat all day. Think your colleagues don’t see you minimize your browser every time they walk by in order to hide the fact that you were just shoe shopping online? They do. Go the extra mile. Volunteer to help on a project or join a committee. Throw away that gum wrapper on the floor that everyone else keeps walking by and ignoring. These things will be noticed and will help you get to where you’re going.
Everyone, everywhere, is a possible connection. Are you looking for a job? Tell people. Let your friends know. Make it your Facebook status update. Spell it out on your LinkedIn profile. Maintain your connections with classmates and instructors. Go to networking events. Sometimes it’s hard to get out there, and plenty of us consider ourselves introverts, but the more people you know, the more people can help you.
Stay positive. It’s easy to be positive when things are going your way. You graduated. You have a job lined up. You just got engaged. Life. Is. Great. Except…when it’s not. When your job turns out to be a stinker, when you realize you can’t afford the wedding you always imagined – those are the times when being positive is the hardest…and the most important. Things will work out. They always do. Positivity truly radiates. People want to be around the happy person. They want to hire the guy with the positive outlook. Be that person. See what happens.
Congratulations (and good luck!) to all of you graduates out there. The real world is waiting for you…