Transitioning to the Working World

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Transitioning from full-time student to full-time employee was a bit challenging for me.  If I could go back in time 15+ years, this is what the Me Now would say to the Me Then about that first job or two after college.  Perhaps it will help you adjust your expectations and be a little happier in your current job.

Dear Me Then:

I know you think this first job out of college is horrific.  The numbers worked out so perfectly in college in those amazing accounting classes that you loved.  Everything was so black and white.  Absolute beauty.  As you’ve quickly discovered, here in the real world, numbers aren’t so black and white.  While textbooks are great at teaching concepts, they fail to give you that final touch of working in the real world.  This side of that college degree, numbers don’t work out perfectly.  At least not always.  It is an adjustment to go from the perfect problem and perfect solution in college to rack your brain to come up with a somewhat acceptable solution to this confusing work problem.  You’ll adjust.  You’ll be ok.  Now you get to be a real problem solver not just an academic one.  Don’t give up!

I know that co-worker was mean.   You had such a great idea to help make the department more organized.  But, you have to remember, you are the new kid on the block.  Yes, you came in here with some great ideas.  But, you have to be sensitive how you share your ideas.  These other people have been working here a lot longer.  They have a lot more experience.  They have established ways of doing things.  You just coming in here and starting to change things up can rock the boat.  Take it slow.  Talk to your boss.  Get feedback.  Don’t just start doing, doing, doing.  Be considerate.  Thoughtful.  You can definitely help this place be better, but you’ll have more success if you understand that not everyone is just open and ready for change.  Don’t give up!

I know that was humbling to have to go to lunch with the boss and co-workers to work out the office conflict face to face.  Sometimes these things happen.  People are people.  Did you get along with everyone back in school days?  Were certain people mean, bullies, lazy, hard to get along with?  Same thing out here in the work world.  What you need to realize is you have one amazingly awesome boss.  He was willing to confront this problem that has been festering.  Some bosses wouldn’t have the wisdom or courage to bring co-workers all face to face to work things out.  I know it was hard.  But, it was good.  Don’t give up!

I know that one manager got mad at you because you went straight to the guy above him with your frustration.   I know it made sense to you to go to the top guy to deal with that problem you were encountering.  However, workplaces have a hierarchy for a reason.  You go to your immediate supervisor and work your way up as necessary.  Don’t start with upper level guys!  That’s just how it works.  If you skip levels, it can appear you don’t think those middle guys are very competent. It doesn’t give those middle guys an opportunity to problem solve and prove their worth to the company.  It blind sides these middle guys when an upper level guy approaches them with the problem instead of someone underneath them.  I know it’s hard figuring out these little nuances of work life.  Managers want to be respected.  You’ll have much better work relationships if you follow the hierarchy and just go up one-level at a time.  You’ll be ok.  Just keep learning.  Don’t give up!

I know you think there has to be a better job out there.   You know what, maybe there is.  Maybe there isn’t.  I can assure you though that NO job is perfect.  You will run into mean people, lazy people, deceitful people everywhere.  Challenges will exist.  Learning curves will be tough.  Why don’t you stop focusing on what frustrates you about this job, and start focusing on what you love about this job.  You have co-workers to go to lunch with every day, don’t you?  Not every job has that.  You made a friend at work, haven’t you?  That’s not always possible.  You laugh at work, don’t you?  That can be a rarity in some places.  You love the atmosphere of the buildings, don’t you?  Some places are just a blah building.   Nothing unique like this place.  You have a boss who listens to you, don’t you?  She encourages you.  She praises you.  She wants you to succeed.  Not all bosses are like that.  A friend told me about the 70/30 principle.  If you are 70% happy about work, don’t look for another job.  All jobs will have frustrations.  Remember, you can make this place better by sharing your thoughts and ideas.  You don’t have to settle for the status quo.  But, don’t go chasing another job thinking it will definitely bring you satisfaction and more happiness.  Chances are high that you’ll just be tempted to run again…and again…and again.  Strive to be content and thankful in this job.  Don’t give up!

I know it feels great to vent and grumble every single day to co-workers and friends about all these imperfections at work.  But, you know what, that really helps no one but the devil.  Ouch.  Yeah.  That’s what grumbling is.  It’s wicked.  I know it’s the natural reaction.  But, it’s awfully wicked.  It brings down those around you.  It doesn’t glorify God.  How about you replace all that griping with some thankful words.  And, if you have a legitimate problem you need to talk over with someone, do so in a manner to help fix the problem…not just to vent.  Grumbling never brought true happiness.  Gratitude changes everything.  If you’ll only learn to be thankful, you’ll be amazed at how much better your job experience will be.

I know you want to quit.  Well, technically, you could quit.  But, let’s be real.  Who is paying for your food, your rent, your utilities, your car, your hobbies, your vacation, your clothing, your furniture, your books, your outings, your everything???  Money doesn’t grow on trees.  The job might not be fun.  But, work.  Work hard.  Give it your everything.  At times while being a mom, I want to quit.  That’s right.  I finally have my “dream job,” and I want to quit even that.  But quitting isn’t an option for a mom.  Learn to persevere NOW!  Endure the hard things about your current job NOW.  You will need endurance for the future.  Learn it NOW!  I’m not saying never quit a job.  But, I am saying don’t quit just because you feel like quitting.

One last thing, I know you think you chose this job, but actually God sent you to this job.  You haven’t learned about God’s sovereignty yet.  You think you chose this job.  Well, you’re right, you did.  But, God sent you to this job (Exodus 45:5; research Joseph’s life).  God’s sovereignty is such a rich, beautiful truth.  Sovereignty means God controls everything about your life.  That includes this job.  Before the beginning of time, God designed every facet of your current situation: the window-less office, the incompetent co-worker, the kind boss, the mean co-worker, the friends, the trials, the frustrations, the conflicts, the blessings, the good times.  Everything about this job was all perfectly tailored for your good since you love Him (Romans 8:28).  I know it feels like you are just doing mundane filing, creating random spreadsheets, and making countless corrections to errors, BUT, you are actually right where God has you for this moment in time to accomplish His purposes for His glory.  How does that work?  I still don’t know.  But the Bible teaches it and I have observed it firsthand.  Every day when you go to work, you aren’t just doing work.  You are fulfilling God’s call on your life.  Did you hear that?!  That changes everything.  One day this job might end for you.  But, for right now, you are here for a purpose.  Give your best effort.  Love those co-workers.  Perhaps God is using you to further His kingdom right in the setting of this “horrific job.” Perhaps He’s preparing you for something down the road.  Don’t judge this job based on your low vantage point.  Something much bigger is going on than you can imagine.  Trust God.  He sees the beginning to the end, and He never, ever, ever makes a mistake.  He’s up to something good.  You might never know what He is accomplishing this side of Heaven.  Just keep being faithful, hard-working, loving, kind, and trust that God is fulfilling His purposes.  You chose this job.  But, God sent you to this job.

Do you know where you’ll be in 5, 10, 25 years?  No.  Just take this new work life thing one day at a time.  Just do what you know you should do today.  Just be faithful, faithful, faithful today in the little things.  Time will show that God was working to accomplish His purposes that are far greater than anything we can imagine.  Walk by eyes of faith, and DON’T GIVE UP!!!

*********

Well, that ends my reflections on that “fun” transition from school to work.  I wish I could go back in time and redo my first years in the work force.  I missed so many opportunities to be kind and encouraging to bosses and co-workers because I had such a bad attitude and was so self-focused and full of grumbling.   But, I can’t go back.  And, God is sovereign even in this.  Perhaps my story was necessary so that I could write this post right now and help some of you adjust your job expectations.  Going from school life to work life can be quite an adjustment.  Don’t give up!

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