The reality of the job world for many recent graduates is a difficult one to accept. Gone are the days when easily transitioning from college to a job was the norm. Now, many recent graduates find themselves underemployed or taking work that has little to do with the degree they earned.
Many students daydream about their ideal job and, because they are enthusiastic and ambitious, they want to begin that dream job right away, right after graduating. If you can’t find a job after college or can’t find an ideal job, it may be time to adjust your expectations.
You may need to expect to start at the bottom and work your way up the ladder. Many recent graduates work at entry-level positions. This is customary. While this may be slightly discouraging, an entry-level position could lead you to a better job in the future.
An entry-level position primes you for the future. When you begin working at a company in a lower level, you will gain valuable knowledge about the workings of the company, and you will have obtained experience and met new people to perhaps one day advance to the next level within the company. That, or your experiences will give you what you need to land a better job with another company.
However, there are challenges that go along with entry-level jobs for graduates. Below are helpful tips on finding a job, making the most of your position, and the challenges you should expect with your entry-level job.
Finding a Job After College
As you are working your way through the transitional period after graduation, you need to know and understand that the process can be a little difficult. In order to make the most out of your job search after college, you need to first decide what you want out of the job.
Even if you are going to look for an entry-level position, you should be aware of what you need and what you expect from your job. Here are some of the things you should be looking for in an entry-level position.
Salary: During your job search process, remember that you will need a certain level of income to make student loan payments and cover living expenses. Read job postings carefully to see if they list a salary. Working at an entry-level position means you may need to accept a slightly lower salary. Only you will be able to fully grasp what salary level is acceptable to get your foot in the door and what pay isn’t sufficient to meet your day-to-day needs.
Benefits: Besides a salary, you need to make sure that you are applying for jobs that provide you with benefits that you need. For instance, find out if the position offers paid time off and sick days. If your position does not provide you with medical insurance, you should be aware of the alternatives available, such as an affordable short-term medical insurance plan.
Experience: Is the job you are accepting going to provide you with the relevant experience that you need in order to find a better job? You need to keep in mind that the point of taking an entry-level job is to make sure you get the experience you need to help you prepare for your future.
Room for Advancement: Another great reason to take an entry-level position is if there is room for advancement at the company or organization. However, based on the application and job description, you most likely will not know the answer to that question. When you are in a job interview, ask if there is room for advancement in the position. If there is no opportunity for you to advance, you might want to consider another position.
Making the Most of the Job You Have
Your underemployment and entry-level job may not be what you have always imagined. However, you can still make the most of the opportunity, come out of it with new experiences and knowledge, and grow as an employee. The way to make the most out of the job you have is to figure out how it can help you succeed in the long term. While you may be struggling, here are some important things to keep in the back of your mind.
This is for your future. Yes, your job may not be the best, and you may feel overqualified for the position, but you need to keep in mind that this current job is for your future. This means you need to endure it so that you can get a better job down the road. Your entry-level position will help you find a better job based on the experiences you are going to have and the people you meet.
You are receiving firsthand experiences that matter. Even if you find that you don’t care for the job, you are likely gaining firsthand experience that will help you get a better job in the future. The experience working on projects and assignments will prove valuable if you stick with it.
The contacts you make could end up helping you achieve your goals. While in your current job, you will most likely meet and work with people higher up in the company and in other companies. These additions to your professional network may prove helpful in a job search. Make sure you are comfortable using your network to help get a better job.
Doing the best you can really will lead to bigger and better things. The best way for someone higher up in your company to notice you is to do your work to the best of your ability and to take initiative whenever you can.
The Challenges of Entry-Level Job Positions
As mentioned earlier, every entry-level position comes with its own set of unique challenges, and while you may not know the specific challenges that are waiting for you at your job, you can be prepared to meet certain challenges.
It is important to know what potential challenges you are going to face before you actually encounter them. Preparedness will help you rise to the occasion. As you prepare for your entry-level position, here are some of the challenges that you may end up facing.
Low Person in the Stack: Yes, typically entry-level workers end up at the bottom of the office chain, which means you could end up making coffee, making copies, and filing paperwork. However, while this could feel demeaning and frustrate you, you should keep in mind that it will all be worth it in the end. Perform your tasks to the best of your ability. When you feel comfortable in your role, take initiative and talk to your supervisor to see if there is anything else you can do. Look for opportunities to prove your knowledge and work ethic.
Salary and Benefits: As mentioned before, some of the biggest challenges you are going to face as an entry-level employee are the salary and benefits that are offered to people in your position. As someone who is looking for and needs experience, you cannot be too picky about salary and benefits.
Living Situations: As someone receiving the salary and benefits of an entry-level position, your living situation may not be what you have always imagined. However, you do have options. For example, while it may not be ideal, you could move in with your parents. By doing this, you could save money and cut down on expenses. Living with a roommate is another way to minimize your expenses. By splitting rent and utilities, you may have money left over to set aside.
Paying Off Your Student Loans: You will most likely leave college with some amount of debt due to your student loans. Many loan providers give recent graduates a grace period of six months after graduating to put off loan payments. However, you will eventually have to pay, so you need a job that will allow you to make your loan payments on time while still having some money left over to pay rent and cover other expenses. If you find that your job does not provide you with enough money, then you should contact the organization that manages your loans and set up a payment plan that will work for you and your situation.