After so many late nights studying, attending lectures, and exams, the day has finally arrived. Graduation! You finally have a college diploma in hand, and you are ready and eager to join the workforce. As you begin your search, there is a lot that you should know and a lot you should look for in your first job out of college.

Company Values

You should look for a company that has values that align with your own. Otherwise, you might find it very difficult to do many of the tasks that are required of you. For example, if you are an ecology major who goes to work for a wood pulp and paper company, you may find that you do not like working for a company that chops down so many trees to make paper. You might be better suited as an assistant to an ecology professor or as a consultant on various construction projects that expand into otherwise undeveloped lands. Only 27% of employees agree strongly with their company’s values, so you should seek out companies with strong values.

Potential for Growth

You should look for a company that is going to provide you with the skills and experience you need to grow in your career and find better jobs later. It does not pay to take a job that dead-ends before you even get started. You should be able to accelerate up the ladder to higher positions and better pay the longer you work for a company. Your college degree gets you in the door, and it can put you into a higher-paying position from the start, but if you can’t earn a promotion sometime in the future, that job may not be the right one for you.

Excellent Benefits

Try to avoid taking any job that does not provide you with health care, at a bare minimum. Hold out for job opportunities where you have health care, a retirement plan, paid sick leave, paid vacation accumulated monthly, and any other benefits that make a position worth taking. Unfortunately, you will not know what these benefits are unless the employer advertises it or offers you a job with a detailed explanation of what you can expect in benefits.

This is just a beginning baseline for what to look for in a job right out of college. It will help you weed out the poorer job choices. It could also motivate you to define what you want and do not want in a career.

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