Starting Your First Post-college Job? Here Are A Few Pointers
How do you go from 2 a.m. pizza party gossip to water-cooler chatter? From frat party to office cocktail party? Your first job after graduating from college can be daunting, but these five tips can help get you up to speed:
Find out what's offered and understand your benefits
Employer match: Many employers will match your 401(k) contributions up to a certain percentage of your salary. This is something you should take advantage of because it increases your earning and retirement savings. Be sure to check the amount of time it takes to vest the company matching portion and whether there is a partial vesting during the interim. If you leave the company before you are vested, you will lose the amount your employer put in.
Health insurance: You may have to choose between a health maintenance organization (HMO) or a preferred provider option (PPO) for medical insurance. You should consider the out-of-pocket costs as well as the premium costs when comparing health insurance benefits. Here are some questions to ask: What is the premium and how is this deducted from your paycheck? What does this coverage include? How are pre-existing conditions handled?
Paid vacation and sick time: Find out how many days are allowed in your first year, when they begin accumulating and when they may be used.
Life insurance: Although not a benefit high on your mind right now, life insurance is meant to reimburse your designated beneficiary for lost wages and income should an unexpected tragedy occur. Generally your employer will pay for the amount of one year's salary, while giving you the option to purchase additional coverage.
Stock options: Stock options, if offered at your company, allow you to purchase stock at a set price, and typically, you receive the stock options at a lower price, which allows you to profit more than external parties if you sell them when they are higher.
Be a sponge
One of your top priorities during your first few weeks should be absorbing as much as you can. Get to know your company's culture, your teammates, office policies and department or company-wide goals.
Find a mentor
You don't need to jump on this task your first day, but as you get introduced to senior staff, consider finding someone to bounce ideas off of and be groomed by. This can have big benefits for your career. Mentorship goes beyond giving advice; a mentor commits valuable time and attention to make sure you're progressing toward your goals.
Your first couple of weeks on the job are a grace period where your colleagues will welcome and be patient with you asking as many questions as you want. Take advantage of this. When you're confused or curious about something, ask, and then put the answer down in a notebook.
Be a self-starter
As you finish assignments and are ready to handle a bigger workload, take the initiative and ask for more assignments. This is a great way to build rapport with your team because there will always be people who need help, and they will appreciate your efforts.
The mission of Next Steps Navigation is helping college graduates navigate the ups and downs of finding their place in the world, by finding their right next step. Recognizing the huge gap between getting a college degree and the realities of entering the workforce, we developed our coaching program to help families navigate this critical transition. We’ll meet you where you are and get you pointed in the right direction to choose a job – and a life – that you love.