8 Mistakes College Grads Make at Their First Job

Switching from a college environment to a working environment is exciting, but sometimes challenging. It’s a major transition that everyone has to go through but that doesn’t mean it’s easy. 

If you find it difficult to make the switch from a classroom to a work office, you aren’t the only one. By knowing some of the mistakes many college grads make at their first job, however, you can feel a bit more prepared to take on the challenge.
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8 Mistakes College Grads Make at Their First Job


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1. Waiting for Instructions
Unlike in the classroom, you shouldn’t wait for someone to give you instructions before you act. At work, you’ll be expected to act on your own and complete your work without someone consistently at your side.
For many college grads, this can be overwhelming. Not having someone to help you every step of the way might make you feel like you’re set up to fail. This isn’t the goal of your employer, however. Instead, they expect you to have enough independence and self-motivation to work on your own.
That being said, don’t be afraid to ask for help if you need it. It’s better for you to clarify with your boss than to complete an assignment incorrectly. Just don’t expect someone to walk you through the process every time.

2. Expecting to Get Your Dream Job
Right out of college, you should not expect to land your dream job. In most cases, you’ll need experience before you can work where you’ve always dreamed of working. Unfortunately, many college grads forget this and expect that they’ll walk out of the classroom and into their perfect workplace.
Landing your dream job will take time. You will have to work towards it and you’ll probably end up doing jobs that you don’t enjoy at the beginning. Instead of feeling like you’ve somehow failed, think of it as just a step in the right direction.

3. Neglecting to Continue Your Education


8 Mistakes College Grads Make at Their First Job
8 Mistakes College Grads Make at Their First Job

You just graduated, so it’s understandable that you don’t want to go back to school again. Not continuing your education, however, can be a big career mistake. 

In some cases, taking on a job right out of college can help you work towards your dream job. If this is the case for you, then great! If you know that getting an MBA will greatly increase your job opportunities in the future, though, then it’s best not to put it off.

Many grads find it difficult to go back to school after several years in the workplace. Taking a few online courses can make this transition easier in the future, but it really is ideal to complete all your schooling at once. Earning an MBA can also open up better opportunities for when you do land your first job. You could make a higher starting wage and be placed in a higher position.

4. Feeling or Acting Entitled
Maybe you do land your dream job right out of college. This does not give you the right to act entitled or disrespect your supervisors. No matter how many scholarships you got during college or how many internships you completed, your colleagues and supervisors won’t be impressed if you brag about them.

When you first join the workplace, you’re at the bottom of the totem pole. You’ll have to earn respect from your coworkers as it isn’t automatically granted. Additionally, you’ll need to work to impress your supervisors if you want to be promoted at all. Acting entitled will not grant you any favors and can, in many cases, put a strain on your relationships with your coworkers.

5. Applying to Jobs You Aren’t Qualified For
While you might think that you have the skills for an upper-level position, employers probably won’t feel the same way. Especially if you have no prior experience or an MBA.

Many jobs will require you to work up to a management position or prove yourself before you get promoted to an upper-level job. While you certainly can apply for these jobs, don’t be surprised when you don’t get them. Companies want people with experience and a fresh college grad won’t meet their requirements.
Rather than focusing on getting an upper-level job, apply to jobs that you know you’re qualified for. You won’t end up wasting your time on jobs you won’t get hired for. 

6. Refusing to Work on a Team
Maybe you want to impress your supervisor by taking on a project alone. Maybe you just hate working in teams. Either way, not being willing to work with your colleagues is a mistake that many self-focused grads make.

In college, independence is praised and you’re expected to work on your own. When it comes to the workplace, however, many companies expect you to team up with your coworkers and work towards a solution together. No business will want to hire you if you aren’t open to cooperating, so start thinking of ways to improve your teamwork skills

7. Thinking You Only Have One Option
You might feel like there’s only one career path you can take with your degree. While this may seem true at first, take a moment to think outside the box. You may be surprised to discover there are many different jobs available to you. 

If you really hate the career path you’ve started on, don’t be afraid to try something new. List any transferable skills you have and consider what other jobs might benefit from these skills and your degree.
The great thing about being a fresh college graduate is that you likely don’t have a lot of responsibilities. You’re still young enough that you can explore new options and test the waters. Never confine yourself to only one option. 

8. Not Using a 401K
Even if you don’t see yourself working at your first job forever, you should always take advantage of any available retirement plan they offer. Starting early sets you up for a much easier retirement.
Fortunately, many companies offer 401K plans that you can benefit from as soon as you begin working for them. Even if you think you’ll leave within a year or two, you should take advantage of their 401K.

Think Forward
Wherever you start working, it’s important to think ahead into the future and know that you’re never limited. Your first job is just that: your first job. There will be other opportunities in the future and if you limit yourself from the start, you could face problems in the future. Instead, always be looking to improve.

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