I’m Hired, Now What Do I Do?

That first job
My son graduated college a few weeks ago. He successfully negotiated the gauntlet of zoom interviews and was offered a position with a vast, prestigious accounting firm. He’s not an accountant but has a degree from a well-known university in computer science.

The job is in the firm’s ‘Advisory’ business. It was a great relief because he was not confident after the interviews. (He was well prepared and did several mock interviews) The phone call from the firm, followed by the loud whooping I heard, told me it was good news. I think I was just as happy as he was. His hard work and academic success paid off.

All this got me thinking about what advice I could give him. The trouble is I’m retired, and I started work when Jimmy Carter was president, and I’m afraid the world has changed. So I asked a couple of financial groups what advice would they give their son or daughter starting that first job. Their responses were pretty consistent, and apparently, the world has not changed so much after all. So I’ve categorized the answers, provided a few key quotes, and my thoughts as follows

A ‘no brainer’ in my opinion, being on time is the simplest of things you can do. Heavy sleeper? Then double the alarm clocks you use.
I once had a junior audit team member miss his first travel audit flight. The Managing Director was incredulous. I didn’t dare tell her that the staff member didn’t get to the airport an hour early. He assumed you can make it from Staten Island to JFK in 40 minutes. Bad assumption.

“Don’t leave before your boss, at least not for the first few weeks or without being told to go.”
“Always arrive 5 minutes early for meetings.”

On one “dress down Friday,” I saw a colleague come into work with ripped jeans? If you want to be taken seriously as a business person, dress appropriately. Funny, he often wore $500 oxfords.

I always loved, “Dress for the job you want, not the job you have.” It shows people you’re ambitious and a natural fit for that promotion when it’s the time!

I paid for Grammarly professional and use it now religiously. Using the correct language in emails is everything. Take the time to be detailed, polished, and friendly in all your communications. By the by, you can improve your writing skills.

“Communicate and ask questions. No one will expect him to know everything from day one. Ask ask ask.”
“Feedback is a gift. Listen to it, seek it out, graciously accept it, incorporate it, and you will go a lot faster and farther in your career than people who don’t.”
“Learn how to communicate effectively with everyone at work. If his boss doesn’t, have him set up a 15 minute 1 on one meeting once a week to keep, communication lines open. This is hugely impactful.”
“Asking an insightful question/the right question is more important than having an answer right away.”


Coming from a family of modest means,   I was so grateful for that fhat first job that I was probably too humble.  That isnt the case with many people, and it is a turnoff to both colleagues and managers.  

“Check the ego. The new guy has to pay his dues a bit. Don’t expect to be able to be as vocal about things as senior team members right from the start.”
“You will doing crap jobs until you work your way up, so be prepared for an early jolt to the ego.”

“My son’s resume ended up in the hiring manager’s hands because a former classmate walked it into his office. Talk about the power of networking. His college’s alumni network is legendary. I suggest you- Build that network!


“Networking! Be engaged with his coworkers. Far too often, promotions rely less on your actual ability and more about who you know and how well you get along with others. I wish I had known that as a new grad.“
“Network. It helps move to a bigger company, same position, then small company higher position than a bigger company, same position, etc. If he has a good mentor, then maybe not needed.”


Balance/Work Ethic

The big three Accounting/Audit forms are notorious for working their newbies hard. I am afraid he will have to tuff it out for the first few years. Finding a balance between work and life is always a challenge. I was an early bird and left after five, but I got the job done. Managers like people who deliver. 
I think if there is anything you must make time for is exercise.  Looking back, I wish I had took the time to exercise each day.  The rewards are many, I think stress relief being the greatest.  

“Work hard and focus on what is expected of you and do more than what’s expected. Be a team player.”
“^ this ^ and also understand the top priorities of the boss who is directly above you. Work directly on those items. Those will be the highest visibility and the areas that get his most attention. Those will also be the ones the boss is most grateful to have solid support on.”

I am a guy with two graduate degrees, which I did at night. I do not doubt that I found the job I love because of my education. I also learned to code by reading and attending classes. I attribute my longevity and success to my belief and practice of continuous learning.

“Continue his education, especially if they will pay for it.”
“Take every opportunity and learn everything you can, then move on to something better.”
“Develop specific skills that no one else has (this is the time to do it),”
“Continue education. Read books, articles, go to conventions (good for networking too) in his field.”
Saving first, investing, and taking advantage of company matching is a great way to build that “goodbye pile.” At some point, you will likely need a change. Were we made to spend 40 years at a job then retire? I suspect not necessarily. A pile gives you options like a comfortable retirement or switching to a new job, or going part-time. Maybe even hanging out your shingle. Options are a big stress reliever.

“Save at least 15-25% of income and put in an index fund. Make it a habit this early.”
“When I started at a large utility company years ago, someone told me, “take advantage of company benefits” That was good advice.”
“Setup the 401k on day one, contributing as much as possible. I know that’s probably obvious advice for this group, but it’s possibly the #1 mistake I see with new grads. Especially because if done on day one, then they’ll never miss the money in their take-home pay as they’ll never have seen it in the first place.”

There were some suggestions like avoiding office romances that IMHO were not realistic. I, for example, married a colleague and then just transferred to a new division. Then there was the obvious two-drink limit at all in office or functions. Assume everyone is watching – because they are.

There will be those of you who get into that whole: don’t offer unsolicited advice. Your son is an adult, etc. I know the argument but I was the first in my family to get an education, and I received no advice. I wish I had.

I paid 100% for his college, and my price is a conversation or two. However, I happen to think that is a pretty good deal.

I have probably missed something significant. If you like to add your two cents, please use the contact form on the right.
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