Unsolicited advice for the newbie

(Wow, I guess this counts as being “published!” I’ve submitted an article related to this post to Work It, Mom! and it was posted today!)

Dear Chris,

(Since you blog under your real name, I’m not afraid to use it here.)

Congratulations! You’re about to take the first step into your post-college professional life. If what I’ve been reading lately is true, you could have as many as 8 jobs before you’re 30, so you may as well get started.

I have enjoyed serving as your job-search and interview coach, but since it seems my services in that capacity will no longer be needed, I am shifting my role to general advisor. I thought I’d get you started with a short list of resources. I recommend subscribing to these with a feed reader; you’re not going to have nearly as much time to wander around on the internet.

Navigating the corporate world
Yes, I know it’s not your very first job (there was Kroger, the museum, and work-study), but it’s the first full-time one in your professional field, and it’s a different environment. I’ve found a couple of blogs that address the nuts-and-bolts of work life pretty well. You already know about Ask a Manager, but the Evil HR Lady can also give you a lot of good info. And when you want suggestions about how to deal with the accounting department, you can always ask your mom.

Career issues, the bigger pictureI keep hearing that it’s going to be a different work world for your generation – traditional career paths will go away, lives will be more balanced, job changes will be much more commonplace (this is the “8 jobs before you’re 30” thing). I’m not sure these changes are happening as fast as some of the work-focused bloggers seem to think they are, but it will be interesting to see how things evolve – and odds are pretty good this will just be your first job, and it’s not forever. Your guide through all this change can be Penelope Trunk, The Brazen Careerist, who truly believes the old rules don’t apply anymore. I’m not sure that’s entirely true; you’re just out of college and found a job the old-fashioned way – saw an ad, sent in a resume, interviewed, with no networking or intervention from your parents – the job is directly related to your education and training, and you’re not back living with either of your parents. Anyway, I don’t always agree with her, but she’s got a lot of interesting things to say.

Handling the money
Yes, you’ll actually be making some, and that’s exciting. I know you’ve learned a lot about managing your finances and budget during the last year or so, but this is a topic you want to keep learning about, and other people’s experiences can be a good source. A couple of blogs that you might find useful are The Simple Dollar and Get Rich Slowly.

And as a bonus, here’s some free advice from me:

  • If your company has a 401(k), enroll as soon as you can, and if they match your contributions, put in at least that same percentage of your own money. That will get you started saving for the future.
  • Save for the present by setting aside some money every month to build up an emergency fund.
  • Don’t take more than one or two of the unsolicited credit card offers you get. In fact, better to look around for the right credit card on your own and toss all the junk mail.

The uber-resource (not counting me, that is)If you don’t already check Lifehacker regularly, you need to start. It will point you to plenty of other great resources, in addition to its own original content.

Hope you find all this just the slightest bit useful.


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