by Jess Levine
It’s senior fall. That means it’s recruiting season and you are looking for your first job. You’ve done the grunt work: researching jobs, applying for positions, and running from interview to interview. Finally, all the interviews are over, but the challenge isn’t. You’re left with a few great job offers. How are you going to choose which one to accept?
This is the situation I found myself in my senior fall. I had two great offers. Both opportunities were comparable on paper so the choice seemed impossible to make. I asked for advice from friends and mentors who had to make the same type of decision. There were four criteria which all of them agreed were important, and considering them helped me land the perfect job.
The people you will be working with is the most important factor in selecting a job. Imagine working a dirty, difficult, tiring job with a group of positive, enthusiastic people compared to working your dream job surrounded by people who are negative and hate their work. While these are the extremes, they demonstrate the importance of the people you work with. If you are surrounded by engaged, enthusiastic people who love their work, it is difficult not to feel the same way.
In order to get the best understanding of the people you will be working with, talk to as many of them as you can. If possible, try to visit each company to understand what the culture is like and who you might be working with.
Personal development is the process by which you grow by focusing on utilizing your strengths and improving your weaknesses. These skills might apply to communication, interpersonal skills, confidence, etc. Personal development can occur through a structured program or a more free-form feedback culture.
Personal development is different than formal training. In formal training, you might learn different strategies for solving a problem or how to use a tool. Formal training will typically have a set structure that applies to all employees whereas personal development is customized.
A company’s approach to personal development can range from a structured program with a mentor for each employee, to only discussing development at an annual review. In order to ensure you get enough focus on your personal development, here are some questions you can ask each company. How will the company help me in my personal development? Does the company have a structured program to focus on my biggest development areas? How will I be encouraged to utilize my strengths?
Personal development learnings will not only help you in your first position, but throughout your career. I believe that focus on personal development is the key to having better opportunities in the future.
Some people are happy finding a job they are good at and sticking with it. If you are one of them, embrace it! Choose the job that you are more comfortable with. If you are someone who needs to be constantly challenged, make sure the job you choose will provide that.
For those of you who are looking to be continually challenged by your work, know that these work challenges can come in many forms. It could mean taking on immense responsibility early on in your career, or being put in unfamiliar roles and needing to learn quickly about a new department or process, or constantly being given impactful problems that no one has been able to solve.
Consider each of your job options. Which one has the right amount and type of challenge for you? If you are looking for challenging work, which one has the potential to offer you new challenges as you gain experience, develop your skills and become more confident?
Do you want to work 9 to 5? Could you work a shift schedule? Do you want to work from home? Travel for work? Commute?
Everyone talks about needing a good work-life balance. It’s crucial to understand what that means for you. Maybe you want to be completely out of touch on weekends. Or maybe you don’t mind answering the phone or a few quick emails. Understand your needs and priorities and determine how each job will affect those. Remember that in selecting a job, you are selecting your lifestyle as well.
After considering each factor, you may have a clear winner. Pick the job that maximizes your likes and minimizes your dislikes. If it is still tied, it may come down to how you feel about the job. I chose the job that provided engaged and enthusiastic people, a strong development culture, challenging and ever changing work, and a lifestyle that allowed for travel and a distinction between work and play. What truly sold me on the job was the excitement I felt when I thought about working there. After 2 years at Stroud, I know I made the right decision.