Flash Back Friday: Flash Forward to Reality

5 Simple Tips to Succeeding in Your First Job Out of College
Author: Stacy Rackusin
For a flashback Friday moment, I take you back to the 1990s to two classic movies: “Reality Bites” and “Don’t Tell Mom the Babysitter’s Dead.” Now, I’m completely disclosing my age right now, however these classic cult classics—however ridiculous and outdated— make a point about that time between high school, college and the great beyond. . .Reality. It’s a time of work,  career, and independence. These films do still hit home when it comes to the lack of skills to land the perfect job and having to take a job less desirable. While in the movies, there is a love connection, a perfect job finally landed, and a happy end, if lucky, that may happen.  But why roll the dice and hope for that. Get real and take the right steps to make that happen.
While I can’t give advise on finding love or a movie-style happy ending, I can offer a few important steps between school and job that can make landing your first job/career better and maybe easier to step into. Whether technology, finance, the arts, or non-profit, you can still learn a few key pointers when taking your first steps on a path after college.
When in college, you may have taken all right steps; you may have worked hard through four years with a solid academic record and a clear path toward achieving your BA or BS, participated in sports or clubs, done some university studies, and feel accomplished to tackle a job out of college.
Now. The reality. How do you take that academic knowledge and apply it in the workplace? If you want the manager position, have you ever managed a person? You see a great consultant position, so do you have the tools to consult and are expert in the field? What about if you are willing to start as an assistant in a department? Do you know how to make copies and correlate them, make a pdf to email, mail merge, speak to a variety of people on the phone?
If you missed out on that internship during school to allow you to learn basics in the workplace and get a handle on working with others outside the academic environment, take creative steps to learn some of these basics to equip yourself to be competitive for the job position and thrive while in that position.
1. The small things DO matter:
Mail merging, spreadsheets, navigating office administrative skills, and learning to problem solve are key. It’s ok to ask, but there are some tasks you should be able to use your experience and common sense to figure out.
2. Get out of your comfort zone:
Interact with a variety of people in a variety of situations and activities. Learn customer service and how to handle being put on the spot. Learning different ways to communicate with a variety of people will give you an advantage no matter what your field. Because even if you are coding all day, don’t you want to know how to speak with HR or your boss about a raise?
3. Geek out: 
Know some data bases or at least how to navigate through one or two. Whether by using a computerized cash register, or working on some form of database, most companies have some form of inputting and extracting information in a computerized system. Just having some working knowledge to navigate is a great skill.
4. Research:
You are an expert at this for school, but what about for a job? Learn about the company to which you are applying. Check out the website, learn its mission, get a sense of the office or space environment. It will be important, including how you dress for the job interview and if hired, for the company environment. Most importantly, if there are multiple jobs you want to apply for in the same company but in very different areas, really consider what is the best fit and what is realistic. Don’t just apply to them all. Remember, you may want that Marketing Associate role but know the receptionist in the marketing department may be a better fit. That is ok. It’s a foot in the door and chance to learn from the ground up.
5.  Talk:
Put that phone down. Seriously. Talk in person to your friends, parents, people in the field for perspective. Its good to talk and share your thoughts as well as listen for feedback. Others have been in your place before- it’s not new, just new to you. It’s part of personal growth and being informed so you can make the best decision for you.
So, where/how can I learn some of these things?
Volunteer. Its free and helps you learn a space that offers hands-on learning. Hospitals, nonprofits, law firms etc. can give you great experience. Its a time to listen, observe, learn. This is not about managing or leading necessarily. Its an exploration and understanding of you, your work style, comforts, likes and dislikes. Hey, why not even try guest bartending for a nonprofit?
Seek Advise and professional development. Get into a place that gives practical experience. From the SF Foundation Center, Toastmasters, ACT acting classes, and other organizations that can hone in on skills like public speaking and non profit skills 101.
Socialize in a networking environment. Meet others in the field of interest to get a mentor and learn a bit more about the nuances in the field.
Intern.  Invest in your long-term future. Take a step ahead early on while accepting that part-time job working in retail or the hospitality industry. Those are life skills you can’t learn elsewhere.
Go to the big G. We have it all around us.  Its there on our phones, iPads, computers. .. . search away, even if you don’t Google it.
Best final advise: 
Be open and have fun. It is only a first job after all. Make the most of it so you will gain good experience and solid stories that will help you get to the next job…one that will be an even better success.
Stacy Rackusin BIO INFO