After the balloons and confetti have cleared from college graduation parties, many recent grads will find themselves in a rather unglamorous entry level job. While this is completely normal, it can also be unpleasant and disheartening. Not to worry! Not only surviving, but rocking, your entry level job is totally doable.
First of all, it’s important to do the job well. Not liking your job is not an excuse to do it poorly. On a less altruistic note, the point of putting up with an entry level job is so that you can transition to a better job in the future. If you can’t get a good reference from your entry level job, you are damaging your own chances of moving up. Of course, sometimes doing your job well is easier said than done. Lilit Marcus, author of Saving the Assistants, offers this piece of advice for smoothly navigating an entry level role: “The best thing you can do is figure out what your boss is lacking and do it.”
In addition to completing your assigned duties you can volunteer for other opportunities within the company. Not only will this help you gain a wider variety of experience, it will increase your visibility within your company and provide networking opportunities. Does your HR department need someone to help organize the upcoming company outing? Is your department sorely lacking a birthday cupcake committee? Make sure that by volunteering for these extra activities you won’t be neglecting any of your assigned duties. However, what boss in their right mind would penalize the bringer of cupcakes?
Volunteering for these extra duties is also a great way to interact with other people in your office, including some senior people. As you think about moving up, politely chat about what the normal level of progression is in the company (if you don’t know already.) Do assistants usually put in their year or two and then leave? What do you need to do to get a promotion within the company? This will help you conceptualize your path up the corporate ladder.
In the meantime, try to enjoy working with other people who are in your situation. See what the other assistants do to make their job more fun, and offer each other as much help and camaraderie as possible. I once worked a job making outbound calls, which was horribly boring. However, the people I worked with were wonderful and made the situation bearable. We would poke fun at the grumpy people we talked to and organized potlucks as often as humanly possible.
Best of luck with your entry level job; we’re rooting for you!
How do you (or did you) survive your entry level job? Share a story below, or send me a tweet: @ithinkther4iamb