I totally get it. I was in your shoes not too long ago. You’re about to embark on your senior year of college, and there’s a lot of stuff racing through your mind. You want to enjoy your last hoorah with your closest friends, maintain a decent GPA to earn some level of distinction at graduation, and you want to make your family proud by scoring a job before you get that diploma. You’re hoping to have some security and stability in your life once you leave campus for good. As seniors, you’ve got several things you need to check off your list before graduation like getting a job, and sometimes, it’s easier to simply check the item off your list without deeply thinking about the opportunity you’re about to accept.
It’s common for graduating seniors to accept positions for job security and not fully understand what they’re getting themselves into when they say yes to an offer. I mean, I did it myself. My foremost objective in my senior year was to graduate with a job. I couldn’t imagine me or my parents spending oodles of money on a private college education and not securing a job upon graduation. I knew I’d be embarrassed walking away with a diploma without a secured job after spending so much money and time in school. It wasn’t a matter of landing a job or having an offer. It was a matter of securing a job and knowing exactly what my next step was once I crossed that stage.
At the time, it was more important for me to have a job than no job at all. In my opinion, the main premise for accepting a job offer shouldn’t be for security. A job should provide you with learning opportunities for you to grow your career and enable you to develop or enhance skills for your professional development. Your first job doesn’t necessarily need to be your dream job (and probably won’t), but there should be some value to you as to why you’re doing it. Before committing yourself to a job in your senior year, I recommend you ask yourself these questions and answer honestly –
What are the learning opportunities with this job? – When asking yourself this question, think about these things: Are you looking for specific opportunities that you wish to get out of your job such as technical skills, sales training, networking opportunities, ability to travel? Have you thought about whether or not this position or company will provide you with those opportunities? If those learning opportunities aren’t available to you, what is your next step? Are you willing to walk away from this opportunity? If you aren’t what’s keeping you.
What skills can I develop and/or enhance? – At this stage in the game, you should understand the role, its responsibilities, and at a high-level, what will be expected of you. With that said, you should have an idea of what skills, both hard and soft skills, you’re able to cultivate. Ask yourself: What are they? Which ones am I interested in developing? Both hard and soft skills are equally important, and you should have a grasp of what this opportunity will enable you to develop.
What value will this job bring me? – When I say “value,” I don’t see it as just money or a hefty salary. I determine value by understanding the skills I can learn through my work, what it will do for my network, what relationships I can build, and seeing what potential it brings for future jobs. I see value as a two-way street; you put in a ton of time, dedication, and effort into your role, and your employer reciprocates by offering you greater responsibilities, more learning opportunities, a promotion, or a raise. You put in the work because you value your job and your employer, and your employer values you as an employee. For all of the work you’re putting in, it’s important for your employer as valuable to the company, which causes me to ask another question: What value are you looking for from your employer?
Why am I accepting this job? – Ultimately, what’s your foremost reason for accepting this job? Have you determined what’s your “why” behind your decision? If you haven’t, take to really think about this job and why you want to accept it. Don’t try to convince yourself to commit to a job that’s not worthwhile. If you’re scrambling to find answers to these questions, perhaps this job isn’t the right opportunity for you. On the flip side, if you have well-thought out responses to those questions, don’t look for the negative in a sea of positive. This job might be a great opportunity for you that you don’t want to pass up.