Ten Things You Didn’t Expect on Your First Job

My article is also on PR Daily   http://prdaily.com/Main/Articles/10778.aspx 

What a relief! You’ve scored your first job out of college.  This means you are actually an adult with an exciting career, a social life, disposable income and no more cramming for tests, boring research projects or homework, right?   Not exactly.   As you navigate the real world, you are likely to experience several challenges you didn’t anticipate. 

  1. Fatigue.  In college you stayed up late, slept late and took naps.  When you have to be at work at 8:00 a.m. or 9:00 a.m., your day starts early and there is no nap time.  After the commute, work, lunch at your desk and more work, you will likely be exhausted.  This is perhaps one of the biggest adjustments from college to career.  It takes about a year to get used to the demands commuting and working a full day.
  2. Stress.  You thought final exam stress was rough.   Work stress, deadlines and being in an environment where you have multiple bosses and clients making demands on you is intense.  Identify stress-busting techniques to help you avoid a first-year meltdown. 
  3. Friends?  When you work 8-12 hours per day and have unpredictable hours, making and breaking plans with friends is likely. Pals or significant others who are still in college or who aren’t working in a fast-paced career will not understand that going out for cocktails on a Thursday night is not in your reality.  You’ll make a lot of friends through various phases of your life. Let go of friends who don’t support your drive to succeed during your transition to the professional world.
  4. Money.  Once you have a career, you’ll make a lot of money.  Perhaps in a few years.  But most entry-level public relations positions pay in the $30,000 to $40,000 range and after taxes, commuting expenses, professional wardrobe costs and other bills, your checks will likely be pretty tiny.  Be patient, with a solid performance and smart career moves, you can earn a great salary within a few years.
  5. Budgets.  Speaking of money, you are likely to be expected to understand and perhaps manage client budgets.  Colleges don’t spend much time teaching students the financial aspects or public relations work.  Do some research and develop fiscal management skills for your clients. 
  6. Accountability.  Reports, reports, reports.  Keeping track of how you spend your time, showcasing the value of your work and justifying the work you and your team do on a daily basis is essential.  Reporting is standard practice in this billable-time business.   Take good notes.
  7. Digital.  Most university public relations curriculums have a heavy emphasis on writing, campaigns and public relations theory.  Digital and social media is an integral and rapidly evolving component of public relations work. Utilize these channels strategically for business and constantly update your skills.
  8. Juggling.  Entry-level public relations requires the ability to successfully multi-task.  You might be responsible for media monitoring reports (boring, but important),  managing the logistics for a major product launch, researching for a new business presentation, pitching a news story and posting content on a client blog…simultaneously.  Learn to prioritize and tackle assignments accurately and quickly.
  9. Criticism.  You will receive criticism from bosses and clients alike who expect your work to be perfect, although they provided you with little direction or guidance.  You must not be too sensitive or dwell on negative feedback.  Learn from your mistakes. Understand the work style preferences of your colleagues and clients and deliver.
  10. 10. Validation.  Similar to point 7, you will not likely hear much praise when you do a good job.  You are expected to do a great job, that’s why they hired you.  Your praise is your paycheck.

 The first year out of college can be tough but your ability to successfully navigate the challenges of your professional launch will set you on a positive course for a meaningful and rewarding career.   

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