Advice for Students, Interns, and First Real Job Holders

Posted: June 3, 2013 by David Lamont in Opinion
Tags: , , ,

It’s that time of year when many students and recent graduates take on their first “real” jobs — those jobs related to their chosen careers. Most of these jobs are low-level, low paying, and not all that glamorous. Some would call them “crappy” jobs.

If you now have one of these crappy jobs, embrace it and give it 110 percent. You may give it 110% because that’s just who you are. But if not, consider this. One day you’ll be the boss and you’ll need some student or recent graduate to do similar low-level jobs for you. You’ll want those jobs done well by people you can trust. When you do your job well today, you can legitimately expect the same from your (future) team. So jump in. Go beyond expectations. Arrive early. Stay late. Volunteer. Ask “can I help with that?” Before long you’ll earn the reputation you need to advance to the jobs you really want.

It’s better to do something for nothing, than nothing for nothing

It’s entirely reasonable to expect to be compensated fairly for the work you do. And, there are many people who, as a rule, will not work (or give 100%) if they feel that they are not adequately compensated. That’s understandable. However, I follow a different rule that serves me well.

I believe it’s better to do something for nothing, than nothing for nothing. Volunteers and unpaid interns obviously agree. Here’s why: A low- or no-pay work opportunity gives you experience, contacts, satisfaction, and references that you will not get if you don’t do the job. In turn, those benefits can help you get paid more down the road. Therefore, if you have nothing better to do, and an opportunity arises that will add to your capabilities or contacts, you should consider it, even it is unpaid. If you take it, give it 110%. After all, you cannot reuse wasted time and 40 hours on Facebook will never equal one hour of on-the-job experience.

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