After you graduate college within one year you should have multiple realizations. To help you jump ahead in the learning curve, or in other cases question your own decisions, here are twenty things you should realize after a single year of work experience.
1) $100K is Not a Lot of Money: In short it is not. Not even close. Looking at the facts, if you are making $100K a year that is approximately $5,000 in post tax income per month. With the average rent for a studio in a major city like NYC at $2K+ this means that you cannot even afford to live there (using the 1/3 of income as rent rule, you need at least $6K post tax). If you cannot afford to live in your own place in a major city… You’re no where near rich. Times have changed.
2) Successful People are Nice: In college you’re taught to hate the rich and believe that they are all a**holes. In reality, the elite are actually easy to get along with… the catch is they don’t enjoy wasting time. If you’re of no value and don’t have potential they will quickly move on since there is no point in building a relationship. This isn’t mean, this is realistic. There are many other promising people that they can spend their time with. In short, no one is a snowflake.
3) 60 Hours is Longer Than You Thought: When you graduated, you believed that 12 hour work days (or 16 hours for those on the Street) would not be that bad. In reality it causes you to be excruciatingly efficient. If you work 14 hours in a day, your mind becomes tired by hour 10. You have not had the chance to work out, do laundry, or relax… Time to make adjustments.
4) Your College Friends Go Away: As mentioned,if college was the best time of your life, you did it wrong. You may keep one or two around who are equally successful, but if the gang from college is primarily together, there are serious problems. Your friends in college will be quickly replaced by business associates, as they say “It is hard to hate someone that makes you money”
5) Reading Increases Communication Skills: You will be writing an email or talking on the phone one year after graduation and you’ll struggle. For some reason the words are not flowing as much as they used to… The reason? You’re not reading as much as you should. Pick up a few books and begin reading 100+ pages a week at minimum. It keeps your brain fresh and you will come off as more mature and polished.
6) Consistent Sleep is Better than Hours Slept: In short, it is best to sleep at the same time every single day of the week. While 9 hours a day may sound better, if you are not sleeping at the same time your biological clock goes haywire. Waking up at the same time on a daily basis will allow your mind to run like a well oiled machine.
7) Women Are Not Honest: Women are better liars than you. They have better people skills in general. What this means is you’ll believe a lot of the smoke and mirrors. Once you realize that they are simply human, you’ll intelligently adjust your phrases to catch them in lies that determine their level of loyalty. You won’t be surprised that less than 5% will pass.
8) You Can Get Stronger: Assuming you are dedicated to being fit, there is no reason to be in worse shape than you were in college. Your body continues to get stronger through your late 20s. Use this to your advantage. Negatively, you need to walk around more frequently since you’ll be sitting at a desk for the most part.
9) Complainers Are All Losers: There is no debating this one, as soon as someone complains about topic X, be certain they know absolutely nothing about that topic.
If they complain about the economy? They are broke and unsuccessful. (S&P at ~2,000 today by the way)
If they complain about women? They are not doing well with them.
If they complain about office politics? They have poor social skills.
If they complain about Life? You get the picture.
10) Cost Doesn’t Matter: The idea of “big purchase” versus a “small purchase” should be squashed. The only question you need to ask is “What is my return?”. If an item costs $500 or $5,000 the only thing that should matter is the return on investment. If you need to spend $10,000 but it is going to return $20,000 in value to you, there is no need to spin-wheels on the decision. Buy it. Price doesn’t matter.
11) Learn to Enjoy Sales: There are few professions that pay well. This creates an issue where you must choose between a performance based sales position or a performance based analytical position. The rare positions that are 100% analytical (quants/engineering) usually come with a steep social cost… Terrible people skills and a poor social life. If you don’t believe this, go find some engineers/quants and take a hard look at their girlfriends. You won’t be happy.
The choice is clear. You need to learn to sell. Selling includes promoting yourself as a brand and selling yourself in an interview. It includes selling a product or service. It even includes convincing a girl to go on a date. This is a much better skill to learn than any Excel or PowerPoint which can be outsourced to India for pennies on the dollar. You can apply it to everyday situations as well.
12) Becoming a Millionaire is Not Impressive: Run the math. You’ll see that becoming a millionaire is not a difficult task at all. You should reach this mark by your 30s and becoming a multi-millionaire before 40 is not a far stretch by any means. Over a 15 year period, if you put away just $1K per week you’re looking at $1.3M+ (7% return assumed). At this point you’re ~36/37 years old and this assumes your income has not increased since your second year as a 23 year old investment banking analyst…
13) Your Contact List > Your Degree: When you graduated college, you looked up to your professors. If this is still the case after a single year of work… you’re in the wrong industry. Regardless of your profession, your contact list will determine your pay grade much more than your degree. A top degree is certainly a pre-requisite… but as soon as you begin your career your focus should shift. Obtain more contacts, contacts and contacts.
14) You Dressed Like a Slob: This happens to everyone, after a year passes by you should be donating clothes to charity like you’re doing laundry. You’ll realize your wardrobe did not reflect your skin tone appropriately. Your clothing did not fit. Oh… and your hair needs to be redone as well.
15) You Never Worked Hard in College: There are extremely rare exceptions, but for the most part… You’ll realize college was a cake walk. Even if you worked 1-2 jobs, took a full course load and stayed in shape. It is still absolutely nothing compared to real life. You’ll be put in your place quickly when you see your first credit card bill… with hundreds of convenience store purchases. Adapt or die.
16) You Must Embrace Technology Quickly: The world is going to evolve. Stay on top of it. Conveniences that were previously relegated to the rich (chauffeurs – Uber, full disclosure – SnapChat, direct criticism – Yelp) are going to be available to the masses sooner than later. If you are not embracing it, then one of two things has occurred.
1) you were unable to adapt or 2) the technology shines the light on your weak spots
Don’t let this happen to you, once technology passes you by it will take significantly more effort to catch up again.
17) Learn to Avoid Technology Addiction: This is a tough line to draw. While you should be on top of new changes you cannot become glued to a single application. This will cause you to miss new changes and will distract you from more important matters. Find a time frame for each usable app, email checks 2x per day at max, automatic alerts for important applications and a synced calendar should solve your headaches.
18) Always Choose Responsibility: Most people are afraid of responsibility. You should jump at it. You’re not going to get paid a lot more by doing the same task over and over again, it is not how businesses work. Any time you have to make the choice between a few thousand dollars and a change in responsibility… always choose responsibility. You will be seen as more mature and much more qualified for the next big project that comes down the pipe.
19) Mediocre People Will Ruin Your Life: Once you realize a person is mediocre you need to leave them. There is no exception to this rule. As soon as you realize a person is mediocre you need to leave them. Mediocre people will try to compete with you, they believe they are smart and they will never show any meaningful improvement over time. When they catch a few lucky breaks here and there, they are first to jump on twitter/facebook/group text messages/emails and play their sirens loudly. Just ignore them and move on.
If you are unsure if a person is mediocre put them in a position to lie. If they bolster simply cut them off. Now, if they sandbag you… temporarily reconsider your position.
20) You Should Embrace Embarrassment: Every year you’ll take a look at your old beliefs and laugh at how wrong you were. Take this in stride and strive for more embarrassment. If you consistently change major views, this means you’re getting better. As you know, if you’re not getting better… Well you may as well be dead.