A recent survey from PayScale found that around only around 50 percent of managers felt recent college grads were prepared for full time work.
Managers said graduates were lacking in critical thinking, problem-solving, attention to detail and leadership capabilities.
So, what should a graduate focus on while in the early stages of a first job after college? Matt Stewart, co-founder of College Works Painting, said they “should focus on growth as a framework for future success.” It’s not always easy if you aren’t in your dream job after taking out all those student loans for a top-grade education, but Stewart said the framework includes pleasant and unpleasant things to embrace.
“While your first job may not be your dream job, you have a great opportunity to build a strong foundation for continued upward movement in a career,” Stewart said. “It’s very important to pay attention to everything and everyone around you. It can pay off – and if not there, then somewhere else.”
Stewart shared some tips for that first job he says can also be applied to a career path:
Start small, think big. “Many young people look for a job at a prestigious big-name company but overlook small companies that would let them have much more freedom and take on a variety of different roles, which certainly aids their growth,” Stewart said. “The training they’ll gain from doing lots of different tasks is huge and also a great way to figure out what they enjoy and are good at.”
Find a mentor. “You need a guiding light to get through the fog of the first job,” Stewart explained. “Find a respected leader and reach out for advice. In particular, pay attention to what they did to get where they are, not just to what they say.”
Do more than the job description. “Early in your career, volunteer for new projects, committees, training others, etc.,” Stewart said. “Don’t be afraid to fail. Higher-ups often appreciate the extra effort. It may lead to promotion or more compensation.”
Find comfort in discomfort. “You get through the temporary pain in the short term and develop newly learned skills for the long term,” Stewart said. “Your brain is hard-wired to acquire pleasure today and avoid pain, but the best thing you can do while young is to rewire your brain – find comfort in discomfort. This will keep you in a state of constant growth and train you to handle stress while young and your pain tolerance is at its highest.”
Finally, Stewart reminded graduates to be prepared to embrace and learn from things that don’t appear so desirable on the surface, and even from your mistakes.