But they really should…

I graduated back in 2011. And if you lived in the U.S., you’d know that was one of the worst years to graduate. Unemployment was still high while home values had depressed dramatically. Not to mention, a LOT of layoffs were taking place in Corporate America.

But as a 22 year old graduate with a degree in advertising and public relations, I firmly thought I’d get the most ideal job straight out of college.

Then reality hit me like a ton of bricks. No one seemed to be hiring for my field in my small little world located in Orlando, FL.

And the companies hiring requested at least 3–5 years of experience. But without an opportunity extended to me how could I ever gain the experience required?

So… I did what I thought was best for me at the moment. I took the administrative assistant job that paid only half of what I expected to earn after graduation.

Being that it was my first full-time job ever, I had a lot to learn about the workforce.

So today, I’d like to share the most valuable lessons I’ve learned that they DON’T teach you in college. And as a plus… I’ll also share my tips on overcoming the common obstacles encountered as a graduate.

Learn the art of Gratitude ❤

As you can imagine, it was difficult for me to take the administrative assistant position. Not because I felt I was too good for the job but because I had studied four years and slaved my way through college to get the best grades only to be disappointed with the first job position I took. My confidence definitely took a dip. And I started falling into a depressive state. Tip: To combat that feeling of worthlessness and failure, I began to focus on the positive side of my life. As I reminded myself of all my blessings, I became overjoyed. Each day I began to focus on THREE blessings each day (different ones for each day) and my perspective on life changed dramatically. Instead of feeling pity for myself, I started enjoying life more.

Separate Circumstance from Self-Worth

No one told me that as soon as I entered the workforce, my self-worth would quickly decline. At my first job, in particular, I struggled a lot with feeling like a valuable employee. I remember one experience in particular that really made me question my competence and worth. I was tasked with finding the best price for new tires for the company truck. So I made a professional spreadsheet that compared the prices from each tire shop and showed it to my supervisor. She gave me the “ok” to set up the appointment with the chosen tire shop. Well.. when the owner’s son came back from getting the new tires on the company truck, I asked him how he liked the new tires and he responded, “I hate getting new tires. It’s such a hassle.” (insert annoyed/disappointed face)

I felt so unappreciated! This was a spontaneous project that I worked on for a while and I received no form of thanks or appreciation for all the research and negotiation I did. After that experience, I realized I needed to learn how to not allow circumstances dictate my self-worth. Tip: Record your thoughts and feelings. I used my Thought Process Log to help me audit my thoughts and dig deeper into how I was affecting my own self-confidence. You can download your free version here.

The After-Work Fatigue is REAL

If you’re like me, the first couple weeks (or months..) of working full-time was exhausting! Time passed by so slow. (Yes, I looked at the clock, A LOT!) And I found myself taking a nap after work because of the mental exhaustion. For some reason, I was perfectly fine pulling all-nighters before finals and waking up early the next day for class.. But when it came to work, I was ALWAYS exhausted right after. But don’t get caught up in that after-work nap ritual. It actually affects the quality of your sleep if you take too long of a nap during the day. Instead, try this. Tip: Create an after work ritual to keep you from going to bed too early. Ex. Workout, read a good book, cook healthy meals, etc. But whatever you do, please Do NOT get sucked into TV shows and movies.

Never settle

Whether you’re currently in your dream job or you’re still searching for it, I encourage you to NEVER settle. Since advertising and public relations was my passion at the time, I decided to create my own opportunity since no one else did. So I started pitching my freelance services here and there to local companies. Although no one ever bought into my services, I had fun staying relevant in the ever changing field of advertising and public relations. MAJOR Tip: NEVER settle. Remember, you have the talent and resources to create your own opportunity. This is a new era and you get to call the shots if you want to. You don’t need to work in Corporate America to make a living. If Sophia from Girl Boss can do it, so can you! ❤

I’d love to hear from you! Can you relate to my learning lessons? What other lessons have you learned?

Originally published at medium.com