3 Ways To Survive Your First Job After College

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When I was about to graduate college and searching for full time employment, a lot of people said to me, “Don’t snatch up the first job that comes your way!”.

I repeated these words over and over in my head and told myself, promised myself, that I would follow this advice.

But after I filled out a couple applications, talked my way through some phone interviews and was offered a job at a hotel a few weeks later, it was as if I had never heard that advice in the first place.

You see, after making nearly nothing at all in college, I jumped at the first job I was offered because it sounded like a million dollar deal at the time! Mind you, my starting salary wasn’t much, but for a fresh-outta-college gal like myself, it was enough to reel me in.

My start date was a week and a half after graduation and although I wished I had more of a summer break before I started working, I was ready to make some money. Donned in my new work clothes with my lunch box in hand, I headed out the door to sit in traffic alongside thousands of other working adults.

It didn’t take me long to realize what a big fat mistake I had made.

And I don’t say that because I didn’t want to work or that I was a lazy college grad.

Have you ever had a job that you knew you just weren’t cut out for? This was the exact thought that entered my mind after two short weeks at my new job.

Every day I dreaded going in and I practically sprinted out the door when my shift was over. I dealt with grumpy guests during my 10+ hour days which only added to my misery. Thankfully, I was transferred to another hotel once the summer came to a close, and my situation drastically improved.

But the good thing about going through tough times is that you come out on the other side having learned something. And maybe that something learned can help out someone else in the long run. Although I was very unhappy at my first job after college, I learned a few ways to cope with my less than idyllic situation that I hope you can put to use if you ever find yourself in similar shoes.

1. Find a mentor(s)
My parents were and are my best mentors. They didn’t let me take the easy way out by quitting my job, but they did help me see the good side of things. For example, they kept reminding me that I was able to save up money so that Daniel and I would have a nice little cushion once we got married. And my mom would always tell me, “At least you know now what you don’t want to do, which is just as important as figuring out what you do want to do!”. Keep this in mind when you are searching for a new job and steer clear of positions that are similar to the one you are trying to get out of.

Figuring out what you don’t want to do is just as important as figuring out what you do want to do. Keep this in mind when you are searching for a new job and steer clear of positions that are similar to the one you are trying to get out of.

Along with my parents, a few supervisors at the hotel I was transferred to after the summer took me under their wing. They made it fun to come to work, they taught me new things every day, and they listened to me when I needed to rant. Sometimes all it takes to feel valued and appreciated at your job is for someone to listen to what you have to say.

Sometimes all it takes to feel valued and appreciated at your job is for someone to listen to what you have to say.

2. Be a positivity sponge 
Most days at my job, the only thing that kept me going was listening to the Christian radio station, K-Love, during my morning and afternoon commutes. If it weren’t for those songs pouring out encouragement through the speakers and lifting my spirits before and after work, I wouldn’t have had the mental strength to go in each day. We can’t control what will happen to us at work, but we can control what we fill our minds with outside of it.

We can’t control what will happen to us at work, but we can control what we fill our minds with outside of it.

2. Have an end date in mind 
I knew I didn’t want to be at this job for much longer, but I didn’t want to quit either. The only way I could keep going was to dangle a carrot in front my nose. I told myself, “Just make it through the summer”. So I did. Then I told myself, “Just make it until the end of the year”. So I did that too. And around this time, Daniel told me that he had been offered a job back in Knoxville. With his new job lined up and our wedding right around the corner, I knew I only had 2-3 months left at my job. I was ecstatic! Finally, I could see the light at the end of the tunnel. With an end date in sight, my outlook completely shifted.

Now, I don’t encourage you to up and quit your job without seriously thinking it through and consulting with your family and mentors first, but the truth of the matter is, if you aren’t happy at your job, nothing is going to change if you don’t have a plan in place to improve your situation. Whether that’s applying for five new jobs every week or making a deal with yourself to only stay put at your current job for one year and then move on, having an end date in mind with a plan to meet it will keep you motivated and determined to reach your goal.

If you aren’t happy at your job, nothing is going to change if you don’t have a plan in place to improve your situation.

With guidance from your mentors, staying focused on the positive, and reminding yourself that this season of life won’t last forever, I am confident that you will not only survive your first job after college, but that you will set yourself up for success for your next job as well!

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