So you’re in your early to mid-twenties and trying to find your purpose in the world. A lot of questions are running through your head and you’re searching for better opportunities or struggling to fit in at your workplace... It’s tough, I get it! I have three W-2 forms for this year’s tax season as I’ve done some job hopping myself. I’ve been fortunate to have the opportunities I’ve had thus far in my life and thank Collins Community Credit Union for taking a chance on me. (Hopefully I only have one W-2 form for many years to come.)
Transitioning from high school or college to a full-time career is one the most difficult life events.
1. Working with Different Generations
Let’s face it; most of the people we work with are nothing like our peers that we’ve spent time fostering a majority of our relationships with for the last 20+ years. We speak differently, want things done differently and approach scenarios differently. Oh yeah, and we hold different titles and roles within the organization for which we work.
How to overcome this obstacle: Listen and learn from your co-workers. Reach out and ask a long standing employee to be your mentor. It’d probably be an honor to them, and you’d learn more about the organization. Oh yeah, and it’s free, useful knowledge! Take notes and listen and see where you can put your newly gained knowledge to use. Make sure it doesn’t go in one ear and out the other.
2. Working a Full Day vs. Going to Class
Eight hour days can be long… especially if you’re working overtime or have other work obligations outside of the typical 40 hour week. It seems like one week is really busy and there are not enough hours in the day and then the next week one may be reaching out for responsibilities. Either way, at the end of the day you’re completely wiped out and ready to head to bed much earlier than accustomed to. We start to realize we had it pretty easy when we had three to four hours of class per day with study breaks and tests to prepare for.
How to overcome this obstacle: Go to bed when you’re tired. It makes for a long day when you’re dragging at work and struggling to stay focused. I’ve also put in place more of a routine like eating healthy and setting aside time for exercise in the morning to jumpstart your day; for me, it’s tough to find the motivation to hit the gym after putting in a full day’s work. (When at work, take mini breaks. You’re more productive when you get up and walk around.) Also, be comfortable taking on new tasks and asking co-workers for help when needed. If you have a good employer, they’ll appreciate and understand. Remember, everyone can relate to starting their first job. I find that I have to remind myself of that frequently.
3. Advancement Opportunities/Being Noticed
In school, I got by rather easily by simply showing up to class, turning in assignments and reviewing notes. I was recognized by seeing my name as an honor roll inductee or receiving the 95% A letter grade on my assignment. Your full-time job often requires a different skill set and being able to apply what you’ve learned to become noticed rather than searching for a ‘correct’ answer on an assignment. The workplace is more unpredictable and you may be faced with tasks you’ve never dealt with before, yet your managers still expect you to be able to complete the task both on time and up to par.
How to overcome this obstacle: I am not saying to go out and become a huge brown-noser, however, it may be beneficial to keep track of what you do in a month or year to be able to present at your performance review. This allows you to be more marketable you’ll be able to show the value you bring to your organization. Also, continue to educate yourself in your field by becoming a life-long learner. You can take advantage of free seminars, read a book or take classes for example. I also try to go above and beyond on certain tasks if I think of a more efficient way to complete a task. A lot of times these changes are easily noticeable to your boss and those holding upper level management positions.
4. Living on Your Own vs. at Home or in the Dorms
This is a big one that took quite a bit of time for me. I wasn’t used to paying for everything on my own and not having a roommate to talk after work. In school, I was able to see peers and lived on campus with my friends. When entering the working world, we often feel like we’re on a deserted island. This is especially true if you moved to a new city and don’t know anyone. There are also numerous costs that pop up unexpectedly, or ones you may not have even known existed! For example, on your current budget, did you include car insurance, renter’s insurance, cell phone bill or savings for unexpected car repairs and maintenance? And what to cook? That’s the real question. I can only eat so many packets of Ramen Noodles and Big Macs at the local McDonalds. In school, I could find food anywhere on campus, and I didn’t really budget for food. Fast food can easily add inches to a waistline and decrease the funds one has available for fun activities.
How to overcome this obstacle: I started off with Facebook. Everyone has Facebook friends and acquaintances on Facebook, but we have no idea where they’re currently working or living. In my about me section, I put where I currently lived and what my current job title was. Before long, I started realizing that some of my fellow graduates were nearby or held similar positions at their place of work. Not only do I now have friends or acquaintances nearby to hang out with, but we can also share our work experiences with one another. If you’ve moved out of the state or country, I would recommend putting your hobbies to work. Get out in the community and join a club or do an activity you enjoy with others. I joined a gym and signed up for a young professionals group. I started meeting people my age with similar interests. And what to cook? I started planning more by devoting time to preparing meals for the week. I fell in love with Crockpot meals that provided leftovers for the days to come. Creating a budget really allowed me to track what I was spending money on, so I could plan accordingly. It also showed me where I could cut down on certain expenses that would allow me to set aside a little money for saving and building up an emergency fund.
I’d be happy to hear what your main obstacles are or were while starting your first job outside of high school or college! Please Share: