Hundreds of thousands of Filipinos graduate from college every year. Unfortunately, a college degree is no longer the single determinant of success once we venture outside the safety of our schools.
Jobs are also not guaranteed even if you have a college degree because, based on a study, almost 24% of unemployed are college graduates.
With more and more students graduating and entering the ‘real’ world, there are so many things they still need to learn that were mostly not taught in school. Here are some:
On Looking for a Job
1. Practice your communication skills, especially English.
If you’re planning to apply for a job, you must have good communication skills. Many fresh graduates have a lot of potential to do good or even great in a job; unfortunately, they fail the first few steps, including the interview.
So, if you’re not confident with your English communication skills, you must practice as early as possible. Websites and YouTube videos offer practice materials for fresh graduates on how to answer common interview questions.
2. Don’t apply for your dream job immediately.
One common mistake of fresh graduates is immediately applying to their dream job. Unfortunately, since they are first-time applicants, they are usually nervous and don’t have experience with company exams, HR, and panel interviews – because of this, many would fail.
The trick is applying for at least three companies where you can practice and gain the needed confidence when applying for your dream job.
3. Ask for a reasonable salary.
This is a very crucial mistake of a lot of graduates, especially for those with licensure examinations. Many freshly-minted licensed professionals become too entitled, thinking that their licenses have a lot to offer, only to be disappointed when they realize that hundreds of applicants like them. Companies will also not pay big bucks to applicants without job experience.
I had experience applying for an engineering job when I was starting. I told the interviewer that my expected salary is P30,000. It may not look so high, but for many starting professionals during that time, the entry-level salary is around P12,000 to P15,000.
I don’t want to discourage applicants from asking for a high expected salary. Just make sure you’re prepared for disappointments if it is not given.
4. If capable, choose experience over salary.
There is a dilemma between a low-paying job with many opportunities to gain valuable experience and a higher-paying job but with limited growth opportunities when applying for your first job.
If you can find a higher-paying job with many career opportunities, that is great. But if you’re given only these two options, and you don’t have too many obligations, choose a job where you can learn more.
After a year or two, you can resign and find another job willing to pay a higher premium for your experience.
5. It’s okay to choose a job not related to your degree.
This is another thing that I am guilty of. When I was still applying for my first job, I had too much pride in my engineering degree and its matching license. I didn’t want to apply for jobs I thought were ‘below’ what I should be doing based on my degree.
Soon, I realized that it is okay to work on jobs better suited to my strengths and interests, and not just on jobs that will probably earn more money.
Hopefully, you’ll realize that it is better to do something you are passionate about, even if it’s unrelated to your degree than spend time working on something you don’t care about. It’s okay to make a shift.
On The Job
6. Your first job will not be your last job.
Your first job will probably not be your last job because the workplace doesn’t always reward loyalty. Soon, even if you love your job and the people you’re working with, but if you’re not valued or want to find a ‘greener pasture,’ you will most likely leave that job.
7. Respect everyone regardless of position or qualifications.
According to Martin Luther King, Jr., intelligence plus character is the goal of true education. So, your degrees mean nothing if you lack the professionalism, character, integrity, and humility to respect everyone, especially those below your rank or position.
8. Find a mentor.
Mentors are crucial so that you can shorten your learning curve. Mentors can provide valuable knowledge from their experiences that will hopefully help you develop personally and professionally. What’s difficult is finding a mentor that will guide you to the right path.
9. Establish your personal finance.
Many young and old professionals don’t understand the importance of personal finance. Many of them believe that as long as they have a job, they will be secured.
Unfortunately, many will just run in the rat race – living paycheck-to-paycheck and under the burden of constant financial stress – until they retire or unless they make a change.
10. Improve your essential skills.
Essential skills are what we previously call as “soft skills.” In the 21st Century, it is no longer enough that you have the intelligence to succeed. There are other seemingly insignificant but more crucial skills.
In our current age, companies are looking for people who think critically, are creative, collaborative, and communicate effectively.
On Personal Development
11. Establish a reading habit.
Today, everyone’s a reader. Unfortunately, not everyone is reading good materials. Many young and older adults rely on social media for everything. Unfortunately, they don’t know how to verify sources.
Everyone must establish a habit of reading good books because what we read develops what and how we think, eventually shaping who they are.
12. Find a hobby.
A hobby is more than just a cure for boredom. Sometimes, it can even be a career that you can establish. For example, I officially resigned from my teaching job as a full-time freelance writer. It started as a hobby but eventually became a full-time, good-paying career.
We are now living in a time where you can have the freedom to work anywhere and anytime, provided that you can deliver. Maybe your skills in drawing, editing, photography, and other seemingly unrelated hobbies may one day be your primary source of income.
You don’t even have to monetize your hobbies. Sometimes, you can use it to escape the hustle and bustle of the modern world.
13. Have a core group.
As you grow older, your social circle will slowly shrink, and that’s okay. Soon, you’ll realize that you need quality friendships, more than just quantity.
I have three separate core groups of threes, which I talk with often. We share our thoughts, frustrations, hopes, and aspirations. But when needed, we will correct ourselves if we are doing something wrong.
We all need honest, loving, and genuine connections that need to be built and tested through time.
14. Exercise and eat healthy.
After graduating, many would start working and soon neglect their body. That is why exercising is crucial. Exercise is not only for the body but, most importantly, for the mind. To live a healthy life physically and mentally, you need to work your body and eat healthily.
Exercise is for the body, whereas volunteering is for the heart. Sharing our time and resources with various organizations and groups is one of the ways how we can give back.
Volunteering is also a way to check our privileges by helping a sector or community by imparting our time and resources.
Adulting is hard because we never learn much about what to do once we graduate and find a job. As students, we always had the goal of graduating (hopefully on time), passing the board exam (if available), finding a job, then hopefully living life to the fullest.
Unfortunately, it will probably not happen that way. More and more young people struggle through quarter-life crises, which becomes a crucial moment in their adult life.
Remember, don’t be too hasty in reaching for your dreams because dreams change. Don’t be afraid to reach out to your families and friends because time is limited. Stop living somebody else’s dreams, and start living yours.
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