There’s a lot of job advice for grads out there. And truthfully, most of it sucks. It’s all feel-good, basic stuff that really doesn’t help anyone.
I won’t waste your time kids. Whether you just graduated high school or college, here’s the stuff you really need to know:
A Good Work Ethic is More Important Than Anything
You can have all the education you want. But nothing will serve you better in life than having a good work ethic. Nothing. So what is a good work ethic? It’s showing up on time, every day, and doing your job to the best of your ability. It’s not pissing and moaning about how the job sucks (note: all jobs suck from time to time. Some more than others. Even my job sucks on some days.) It’s being the person who says “relax, I’ll take care of it” and then really does. It’s about being the best worker in the place, not because of some love for the company, but because dammit, you’re not going to be mediocre. I don’t care if you are 19 and a cashier – be the best goddamn cashier in the place, and it’ll eventually pay off.
Trust me – a good work ethic trumps everything. It’ll get you further than almost any degree will.
You Do NOT Have to “Love Your Work”.
This is a line of BS fed to kids who’ve been told they can be anything they want. Yea, you can be whatever you want AS LONG AS SOMEONE IS WILLING TO PAY YOU FOR IT (and pay you enough to live the life you want.) They always leave that part out. I’d like to be a movie critic, and get paid to watch and write about movies. Guess what? It’s pretty tough to make a living at that. So I get paid to write about other stuff, and occasionally blog about a movie (that I paid to see). Works for me.
Look, if you’re lucky enough to do something that truly inspires your soul and passion, great. You’re either Steve Jobs, or you’re one broke hipster. My money is on the latter.
It’s Unfair Out Here. Get Used To It (plus, we keep score)
Most of you graduates are from the generation where everything was made “fair” for you. Score wasn’t kept, everyone got a gold star, and you were told you were special.
Guess what? You’re not special, and while we’re all technically unique in a biological sense, you’re also very, very replaceable. You either outwork the next person, or you’re not going very far.
Oh, and your team lost that game in second grade, 67-3. Just so you know.
Here’s the Good News – It’s Shockingly Easy to Shine (as long as you are patient).
Everyone thinks they are a good worker. But in my experience, about 5%-10% of people out there are really superlative work-wise. The rest are filling space in a sea of mediocrity. So it’s very, very easy to really stand out. But the trick is, you have to have some patience. You can’t do an excellent job for a month and say “ok, where’s mine?”. It might take a year or two. But cream always rises. Good work is always noticed. Maybe not right away, and maybe not every time, but it will take you places.
I’m not advocating letting yourself be exploited. I AM saying show an interest in your job. Figure out how what you do fits into the big picture, and maybe look for ways to improve on it. Go the extra mile. Do a little more. When everyone else is complaining or outside smoking cigarettes, clean up your work area, make another pot of coffee in the breakroom, or whatnot. Give a shit, even if you make minimum wage.
Side note: Don’t hang out with the losers and complainers at your job. They want you join them on the raft of mediocrity. @#$% them.
Make the above the way you work, and I guarantee you will find success.