What to Look for in a First Job Out of College

What to Look for in a First Job Out of College

By: Daniel Steingold | August 31, 2016

You have finally graduated from college, and honestly, you don’t want to think about what comes next.

You just know that you both worked and played hard the past four years, and that all-nighters in May and December are likely a thing of the past.

When you start thinking about your next step, however, the thing you will most likely have to take into account is your first job out of college. While entering the workforce full-time for the first time can be intimidating, it doesn’t have to be.

This post will discuss what you should look for in a first job after finishing college.

A Stepping Stone

Although employees used to work at the same company for their entire career, this is no longer the case.

In fact, the average millennial now has four jobs by the time that they are 32 and a decade out of college. This rate of job hopping is double of what it was for Generation X, the age group preceding millennials.

Even if you do stay at the same firm, however, you will want to eventually move on from what is likely an entry-level job.

A good way to determine if a workplace will let you grow and move up the food chain is by asking questions during the interview process.

Some of these questions will be made directly to the company itself, such as how assignments, roles, and responsibility are delegated. Other inquiries into the company should be made online— make thorough use of LinkedIn and the hiring company’s website.

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Although you shouldn’t necessarily be looking for a next opportunity when starting, it’s important to look into the networking opportunities that your new position will allow you.

For some jobs, this might mean meeting high-level executives or clients, while for others it might mean attending industry events. Naturally, some jobs might provide both of these opportunities, while others may provide neither.

Resume Enhancer

When you’re just starting in the workforce, being able to get something rather than nothing is always preferable.

If you haven’t settled on a career choice, it’s particularly important to get a job that will teach you transferable skills that you will likely be able to use in a wide variety of professions.

For example, a sales job has the potential to provide you with perseverance, networking and relationship building, discipline, listening, problem solving, and communication skills, along with drive, for starters.

It’s all about making yourself marketable to future employers, whomever they may be.

Becoming More Well-Rounded

A big priority for a first job should be choosing one in which you take on roles and duties that will take you out of your natural comfort zone. Expanding your skills will take effort, but it’s the most surefire way to ensure that you’ll be able to bolster your resume.

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A good way to see if you’ll be able to broaden your skills is by looking at how work is performed at the organization you’re considering.

As highlighted in the last section, it’s important to ask questions. For example, how do different teams collaborate within the organization, if at all? Will you have the ability to cross-train in different departments?

Purely for the reason of enhancing your overall skillset, startups and smaller firms should be places that you strongly consider for your first job out of college.

This is precisely because you will be more likely to be able to help out with tasks outside your defined role, whether you’re working in a creative or functional capacity.

Besides being able to show a plethora of skills to future bosses, delving into new roles helps you learn about possible future career paths that would be a good fit.

Training Program

When looking for a company at which to work, it’s important to be on the lookout for a place where there’s a thorough and encouraging training environment. It is particularly advisable to seek out a workplace where more senior employees are eager to train newer employees.

Ultimately, you don’t want to work at a company where they throw you into the fire without showing you the ropes. Ideally, you will want to have an open-door policy with your new boss or supervisor, especially when starting out.

As for what you should look for in the longer-term, continuing education is highly desirable. Many companies will even pay for an employee to attend graduate school. This has the dual benefit of allowing you to broaden your knowledge and skills, while not spending any money to do so.

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You should now be well on your way to getting your first job out of college! It’s important to note that money or pay doesn’t come up on this list, simply because the right compensation will eventually come up in your career if you give it time.

Finding the right first job can set you up for an all-over prosperous future in the job market.

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