Dear New Graduates: 10 Lessons for the Newly Employed

Tips for long-term workplace success

My team is amazing. I say it a lot, and it’s true. However, even the team at Red Branch Media has its moments. There have been times when I’ve seen the cultural gap well in effect, and periods where my employer head has clashed with my leader heart.

In the years I’ve been in business, I have hired a lot of new graduates. After reading Jack Welch’s LinkedIn piece on new grads, I was compelled to write a candid open letter to them as well.

[Related: Racial and Gender Gaps Widening in STEM]

So here’s my copycat post. Here’s what I would (and do) tell new grads when they walk into Red Branch Media with soul-crushing loans and a desire to change the world with their knowledge. Please know, I don’t tell them these things to discourage them, but to prepare them and make them better off than they would be if I simply told them to “find their destiny.”

This Is Not Your Destiny. At least, this isn’t what you thought your destiny would be when you were a kid. I wanted to be a rock star/Miss Universe, and now I lead a merry band of B2B advertising rock stars. I know it’s hard to face up to the fact that you aren’t going to write the next great American novel in your first five years out of school. Although my firm is an amazing place to work and you’ll be a better writer, worker, person and, probably, dancer when you leave; it most likely isn’t your destiny. Don’t expect it to be. Instead, focus on learning skills that will help you when you do sit down to write that novel.

I Am Not Your Mom or Your College Professor. This is a workplace. This means you show up no matter how sick your dog is. You don’t forget about conference calls with clients. While I feel terrible when you and your boyfriend are having a fight, it does not qualify as a sick day. Meeting a deadline and turning in a paper are two very different things, and developing you into a great colleague is very different than helping you become a good person.

Want to Work From Home? Earn It. I get that you want to work from home, but very few college grads are equipped to do so right out of the gate. Perhaps you are the exception. Fine. Spend some time earning my trust so I know I can rely on you to do a good job from home, Starbucks or Tahiti.

Your Loans Are on You. Don’t ask me for a raise because you took out loans. I worked several jobs, had two babies, a mortgage and the same loans you did at your age. It is not in me to feel sorry for you because your dad stopped paying your cell phone bill. Save this conversation for your friends, not your boss. I know the system isn’t fair, and I know it’s hard out there for a grad, but trust me.

You Are Replaceable. This one is hard. You never want to say this to people who work for you, because it’s demoralizing and stinky. But that doesn’t make it any less true. For every job I’ve left, I was convinced the company would implode without me. Only one actually did, and that was a bit of a fluke in timing. Look, it’s easy to think you have the roughest, toughest job in the whole company, but please believe me when I say that everyone is replaceable.

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