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Your first 'real' job: Survival tips for recent college grads

This spring, college graduates will descend upon the job market eager to use the knowledge and skills they have gained through four years of intense study (and payments!). Trouble is, for many, the work world will not be beating a path to the door. In fact, without relevant experience, it will be a challenge for most to secure even entry-level positions in their fields of interest.

After observing, hiring and training many college grads over the past 22 years in business, I'd like to pass on the following advice: In advance of your first day on the job, research the company's dress code and general demeanor standards. Investing in a new wardrobe will enable you to look your best and feel comfortable in your new environment. You want to look the part, and appearance counts for a lot in the business world.

After starting your job, plan on a steep learning curve and plan to be a quick study. Ask questions and strive to learn the lessons you need to be successful. Exhibit an eager, can-do attitude, but be cautious not to exhibit an overconfident or know-it-all attitude. Some of the greatest assets you can bring a company are your energy, enthusiasm and upbeat personality. It may be expected that – since you are a "rookie" – you will bend over backward to do the tasks others may not want to do.

You will be expected to pitch in and help in many areas, since you probably do not bring a tremendous amount of experience or skill to the table. This may initially make you feel chagrined that – after four years of college – you are sometimes performing brainless tasks no on else wants. If you are having these thoughts, hide them! Otherwise, your employer may feel as though you do not appreciate the job, thus creating a very negative dynamic between the two of you. Trust me! It may seem unfair, but this is a time to pay your dues, and the four year of college you put in don't count as "job dues". You have to pay dues from ground zero as a degreed person.

The college degree will serve you will in your ability to advance and be successful after this initial period is past. Try to stay positive in thought, deed and action. College involved passive learning; a job involves creative production. In college, you are paying an institution for unique mind-stretching experiences. The work world, however, is paying you to give them some services. This reorientation from school to job, means you may experience culture shock!

Your employer may not necessarily be an entertaining or patient as a college instructor. In addition, your performance will no longer be compared to a similar group of student at your same experience and educational level. You will now be compared to other employees, who may have many more years of experience.

Becoming a contributing member of society takes time and effort. Plan on a time element of at least a few years before you are in the executive suite, with enough income to buy a new Lexus and a second home in the Hampton. Early adulthood is often over glamorized on television sitcoms. Contrary to popular misconception, work is hard and doesn't come easy for anyone. Stay in touch with your old school buddies and find out what they are going through. You will then have a yardstick to evaluate your own progress. Also, realize that some careers take a little longer than others to take hold. Don't lose faith. Remember, there is no substitute for working hard at a field you love. Hang in there with a good attitude and a solid work ethic. Success will soon be yours.

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JMPeters Staffing | 3284 North Bend Rd ., Suite 102 | Cincinnati, OH 45239 | 513-772-0555