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10 Ways to Stay Positive About Your First Job Out of College

first job out of college
Written by Peter Jones

We’re all so excited at the prospect of graduating and getting our first job out of college. Then we get there and the success feels start to wear off and the tedium of adulthood sets in. We feel a sense of let down. And it’s perfectly normal. You’ve worked hard for so long, but almost all things had an end point—courses, semesters, years, and even schools. Now your whole life is stretching out before you and you have… buyer’s remorse? Boredom?

Don’t worry. Your life doesn’t have to be tedious. You’re not done succeeding yet; you’re just beginning. Here are 10 things you can do to stay sharp and make the most of the world of grown-up opportunities. It takes a little longer, and a bit more strategizing, but it will be worth it in the end.

1. Be purposeful

Yes, most people have to work. But if you’re in the privileged position of being able to choose the kind of work you do, that’s huge. Keep track of why you’re working. What about this field or career makes you passionate. Know your purpose—both for being where you are and for heading in the direction of your particular goal. Hold onto it. The day-to-day tedium won’t touch you.

2. Connect with coworkers

Yes, you’re on the stairway to success. But you will need help along the way. Make friends. Your coworkers might not be your college pals, but you’re going to see a whole lot more of them. Invest in these relationships and they may prove to be invaluable. You’ll all work much better together and will succeed much faster.

3. Keep learning new things

The difference between this job and college is this: you’re now getting paid to learn. Learn as much as you possibly can and keep looking for the next opportunity to learn. Make your success as much about the journey as the destination.

4. Pick up new skills

Set yourself goals to pick up new skill sets or certifications, or even degrees. Have targets for every few months and every few years and hold yourself to them. If you commit to learning more and more, you’ll be amazed how much more quickly you succeed.

5. Break up your goals

If you’re daunted by the future stretching out endlessly before you, break it up. Plot out milestones for yourself. First promotion. First big project. First big client. Fiftieth small victory. This will help you make better narrative sense of your time at this job, and any job, as a stepping stone on your way to greater things.

6. Remember that your job funds your hobbies

Even if you’re not 100% fulfilled by your new job and you’d rather be at the movies all afternoon mainlining popcorn, remember that your job funds your fun. When you lose sight of all else, remember that your time at the office makes your social life possible. Save up for special things like trips to make the experience more meaningful.

7. Go above and beyond

Best way to combat boredom: keep looking for ways to do more. Challenge yourself to get things done before a deadline, or to double your quota, or to go the extra mile on a project. You’ll feel more satisfaction, and your dedication will be noticed, and hopefully rewarded.

8. Talk to your boss

Checking in regularly with your boss is a great way to keep tangible track of your progress. Having someone else help keep track of your goal-setting and goal-meeting will be useful to keep you dedicated and also to notice when you’re killing it.

9. Rethink forever

You’re sitting at your desk despairing. There’s no end in sight! Reimagine your situation. What if you think of it as endless possibility? An infinite horizon? Think bigger than you have been thinking… and your open-ended forever job won’t feel so terrifying.

10. Find a mentor

A good mentor can make all the difference in keeping you motivated and focused on what’s most important in the scope of your career. Find someone you admire and respect and ask them to help shepherd you through your early stages. After all, they blazed this trail before!


About the author

Peter Jones