When I read this article, I laughed out loud because it’s so spot on in my experience as both a student and a college counselor. And I imagine it rings true for many people looking back on their first job experiences.
As a student, I definitely thought I was the next big thing, and that I would crush it in any job lucky enough to land me. I was feeling great about how intellectual I was, how good I was at critical thinking and problem solving, what an awesome leader I was—basically, I was too big for my britches and overly confident.
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And then came my first job and my ego shrunk WAY down—applying all of the things I learned to real life was challenging and I made mistakes. A lot of mistakes. But I wasn’t alone, since it seems that’s a common experience for people coming out of college. Your first job is so much harder than you ever thought it could be, some of your dreams get crushed, and you get a harsh dose of reality.
But you also grow from that experience. You learn how to apply those critical thinking skills and become a better team player. Your first “real job” experience is a process of discovery and you’re constantly learning on the job.
As a college counselor, I listened to many students echo thoughts I had about myself when I was in their shoes. Instead of crushing their confidence, I tried to hold my tongue and give them resources and tools to prepare themselves for a career. Everyone should have the chance to take a few blows to their self-esteem and then build it back up through trial and error.
Sure, it’s concerning that students aren’t as prepared as they think they are or as prepared as employers want them to be. But that doesn’t mean they don’t have the potential to be great employees. They just need a reality check, followed by the chance to work hard and prove themselves.