What I tell new graduates now that I’ve been working for six years

My brother just graduated from university to join the working world. As a typical older brother does, I decided to offer my unsolicited advice.

No, we don’t know what’s going on with COVID-19. No, we don’t know exactly how companies should address social issues. But we are figuring it out. It’s a work in progress. Companies, like people, are always changing.

Employment is a transaction. The company treats it as such. Look at the job description and pay. Your employment is an exchange of value: delivering the stated items on the job description in return for value.

In response to their expectations, you can prepare. Be clear about what you want to get out of your employment. List out three things that you’ve learned at every stage in your life. Then come up with three things during this transaction (thank you to Dave Kerwar for this suggestion!).

For example, at your previous employment you learned:

  1. Work-life balance
  2. How to work as an individual contributor as a team
  3. Technical knowledge of data integration

Then at your next stage in life, you can learn through:

  1. Ownership of projects, work-streams, projects, or services
  2. Experience of how different business units work together
  3. Management of a team of people

The company will pay you for the value you give them. But state a few non-monetary things you want out of the experience, and the smart company will be happy to give you more of it. You work more on the things you enjoy, which gives the smart company more value. It’s a win-win.

To do this, you’ve got to be honest about what three things you want out of the employment transaction. The smart company will be doing the same.