Congratulations – you’ve graduated college and gotten your first job. Welcome to the next big – and very important – chapter of your life. I’m Reality, and I’ll be giving you a few pointers for around here. ¶ You can thank me later.  ¶First off, it’s important that you understand that life is about to change. And, by change, I mean drastically change. Gone are the days where you can mindlessly watch Netflix instead of going to class and staying up until all hours of the night. The days of living on coffee are over – as are the hours and hours you once spent pouring over the soul and inner knowledge of those meaningless textbooks you were convinced were worthless. Sorry, but, you won’t see your friends every day, or study in a cute group anymore, or have the option of wondering if anyone will notice you’ve worn the same leggings and sweatshirt three days in a row. ¶Now, instead, you have to worry about coming to work every day, and if your Netflix subscription is even worth paying for every month since you never have time to watch it. I suggest a strict curfew of about 9PM or maybe even 10PM, if you’re good at living on little sleep, because wow, that commute is hectic at seven in the morning. And, since you don’t get home until roughly 6PM, that calls for a long day.¶The coffee thing is negotiable – you’ll probably spent a huge chunk of money every year on Starbucks or Caribou or whatever coffee is “in” to drink with the crowds, and you’ll spent even more on lunch. Just set aside a nice amount of money for delivery charges alone, because you’re lunch break doesn’t give you enough time to go out and grab something. Instead of textbooks, you’ll be pouring over data and pushing papers day in and day out while competing with your other coworkers and learning the ins and outs of the company – all while trying to get to know all the names and faces of those who could either end up your best friend, or your biggest foe.¶Yes – you have to wash your clothes. And please don’t wear leggings here. Ever. ¶It’s only fair that you know now – all those figures you “guess-timated” in college for your wage really aren’t up to par. Most new hires get paid on the low-end, around $14.00 an hour. You don’t start making the big bucks like $18.00 until you’ve got some experience – that’s just the way it is. After all, Boss could’ve hired someone with fifteen years on you around the same wage. At least the benefits are ok, right? But, what would you know anyway, since you’ve never looked at a benefit package? Take my word for it – it’s good. Some things they just don’t teach you in college.¶Oh? Taxes? Social security? I always just take a minimum of about 25% out of my check to cover those when I’m estimating. Better on the safe side, right? Don’t want to pay money back at the end of the year on those taxes [laughs], after all. And yeah, if you have questions, you could see the personnel lady down the hall here [gestures] – but, don’t expect her to know a lot, since plans change all the time. It’s surprising she has knowledge on them at all. She tries to stay on top of them all the time. Just try to keep up on the news and what’s going around Congress for that kind of thing. It’s all over social media. ¶Breaks, you say? Breaks aren’t paid, for most employees. Like I said, you don’t get all that long of one, so it’s best to bring your own lunch or order in. Otherwise, you’ll be running late, and that never looks good, does it? Feel free to snack at your desk, but make sure you keep it quiet and clean. Speaking of desks – you can have personal affects, just not ones that are religious, political, or offensive.¶Really, don’t talk about any of those things – religion, politics, all that. It generally doesn’t go over well. The weather and your family are always nice subjects. What? No significant other? Well, the weather is different every day.¶And, don’t start “anything” with your colleagues. That just gets awkward. And no one wants awkward. Trust me, you don’t either.¶Your duties may not seem all that important, but trust me – they are. Someone has to do the menial stuff around here, because it needs done. And, since you need experience, what better place to start? It might take a while, but all those menial tasks will add up to something big. Yes, your boss may give you some projects well above your paygrade, but they’re testing you out. Trial by fire is how we do it around here (don’t they do it everywhere?). Just plug in and figure it out and you’ll be set. Give it your all, because that’s how you get those promotions!¶And trust me – it’ll be that way for a few years. I know you had these big hopes and dreams for your first job out of college; that it’d be different than the fast-food job you worked in school, you’d have a higher wage, you’d get to utilize all those skills in college and do what you love. That it’d be that picturesque dream that’s all over Hollywood and promised in every college lecture.¶Newsflash: it’s not. At least not for a while. You’ve got to start at the bottom and work your way up, like everyone else has had to do in their lifetime. Yeah, you won’t be recognized right away, and your boss may take your ideas, run with them, and take all the credit. Your colleagues may suck and you may hate your desk. You may hate your job, and this place, and its demographic – heck, you might have to go the long way around just to avoid seeing our logo. But, you’ll learn a great deal from this job in time if you stick to it. You’ll learn things here unique to you and being in this environment that you couldn’t learn anywhere else.¶You know what? All of this, in the end, will be a  memory. Yeah, at some point you’re going to get recognized for your abilities and get a promotion and that office that everyone dreams about, whether here or at a different company. You’re going to get more responsibility with jobs that actually get some recognition and allow you to use the skills you learn in college. They won’t always be menial. Someday you’ll get the best parking slot and someone is going to call you “sir” or “ma’am”. Someday you’ll drive a nicer car and take a nice vacation, and have a secretary. Someday you’ll get to make the effect you want to make on the world right now. I know you want to right now, but really you have no idea how – you need that know-how experience to get you there, first, before you’re showing others how to change the world.¶You see, your degree matters. It’s been fueling the world for years – ifit didn’t matter, it wouldn’t be around. You are a special person because you love that degree and want to further it. You’ll add things to it that you never imagined, or that anyone else hasn’t, too. You’ll do things other people can’t and other people will do things you can’t either. That basis of knowledge that going to college provides is essential – it gives you just a little idea of how the world outside thinks, even when it doesn’t seem like it. Sure, college isn’t perfect and doesn’t pretty you for everything. Heck, it doesn’t even teach you everything. Because, if it did, none of us would ever graduate and move forward. We’d be stuck learning everything forever, since everything comes one day at a time. Then you aren’t even guaranteed to learn and need the knowledge that someone else does – see my point?¶Your dream job is that – a dream. It’s what you work these types of jobs for and why you endure what you endure. It’s the propulsion that keeps you going – the force that keeps you coming back here to learn new things and gain new knowledge.  That dream is what you went to college for and is what you have to look forward to for the rest of your career – until you get there and find a different or deeper level of that dream. It all takes time – you’ll get there. We all do. Just give it some dedication, effort, and some heart and it goes by pretty fast. Look at me, for example. I get to remind people of that every day, as Reality. I get to paint a silver lining even after giving every one my sacred check. It all just takes time. ¶And time, my friend, is something you can’t control.¶Speaking of time – the clock is right over there. 

Published by Miriam R. Orr