20 Things You Should Realize After 1 Year On the Job

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.

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Comments

  1. Cameron says

    I work at a mid-sized bank and started having a lot of these thoughts by myself. Seeing it laid out like this really makes me solidify a few of the beliefs.

    I’ll never forget seeing one of the other first year analysts respond slowly to an engaged client (sell-side)… He was working on a model for a pitch instead. He got yelled at for a good 5 minutes in a closed door conversation.

    The worst part is he had no idea why…

    If I’ve learned anything it is that all sales roles require significant people skills so you should be able to prioritize who matters before you do any work at all. This is somewhat covered in your post on office politics but I think it can apply to your social circle as well. Notgoing to answer text messages from a guy who doesn’t get it.

    • Wall Street Playboys says

      that is terrible. If you can’t figure out that a live client should be responded to immediately versus a pitch it shows significant misunderstanding of the business model and poor prioritization skills.

      Which is another point.

      After a year on the job you should realize multi-tasking is complete nonsense. You should work on one task at a time. What multi-tasking really means, is you correctly prioritize projects. Simple as that.

      Is this generating money? Goes to priority one. Is this person C-level? Priority number 1. Is this a maybe situation = priority number 2. etc. etc. etc.

  2. bfcomposes says

    I recently discovered your blog – and it is literally changing my entire perspective on, well, just about everything. I do have fear. I am afraid that now that I am 41, I am not where I’d like to be – nowhere close financially. It’s almost become an obsession. I have everyone around me, girlfriend-to-be-fiance-soon 100% behind me. How can I feel that it’s not too late to start to implement your ideas? Thanks.

    • Wall Street Playboys says

      Since your goals are financial you should find ways to 1) get paid based on performance 2) obtain leverage with your current personal financial model and 3) look for multiple streams of income.

      (side note – we edited your name for privacy, you can use any name in the box there. the email publishing note is just some side jargon we havent figured out how to remove)

      • WSP Fan says

        Can you expand #2? What do you mean by that? Examples?

        Any book recommendations pertaining to sales?

      • Wall Street Playboys says

        #2 just means you need to find ways to leverage your time better. If you can save time doing a task (paid for or not) then you should be generating more sales/revenue with said free time.

        Books will be determined by your industry, if you’re selling real estate go pick up a book written by a top dog sales guy. It will vary person to person. Recurring sales are not the same as one time sales (although similar)

      • Steve Brax says

        From a financial perspective, is your recommendation always going to be get paid based on performance/deal flow (e.g. sales, consulting, etc.) or start your own business if we can no longer make the jump to Wall Street?

        I’d assume a fair number of readers are in Corporate America working decent jobs as middle managers pulling $80-120k while putting in 60 hours or so a week. We bought into rotational and development programs that put us on the ‘fast track’ to middle management for the rest of our lives. Unfortunately, the fast track taking forever isn’t something we all learned after 1 year on the job, but closer to 5 or 10.

      • Wall Street Playboys says

        If you are not getting paid based on performance you do not have a career, you have a job. What this means is you’re first in line to get fired. If you cannot point to a line item and say “here is the value I added to the company” you are just a number in an excel spreadsheet. You need to prevent this as much as possible.

        Knowing that you’re not being paid for any sort of performance, why are they paying you more money? Middle management is actually a dangerous position, you’re a high cost person generating no money. Why keep you around?

        Give them less reasons to fire you which also forces them to pay you.

        People who generate money do not “work for the company” the company works for them. People don’t understand this. Wall Street is the same. You need to be a walking business otherwise you have no argument to being paid more and no argument for why you shouldn’t be fired.

        Go through the previous recession at your firm. Who is the first person to get fired? The people in the middle. This is the same in every industry, wall street as well, where the VP position is an unstable role.

      • Steve Brax says

        Why do they keep us around then? There’s dozens if not hundreds of people in middle management positions across IT, Corporate Finance, Marketing, Communications, etc. that can’t point to a line item. Most of these are more aligned with admin functions, but unless there’s a very significant downsizing or recession, only marketing will get hit. At least in the Fortune 100 or so. While the upside may be limited, it feels like those positions are a bit more insulated. Maybe I’m blind to the heightened risk.

        Is it riskier to quit a career-job in corporate finance or marketing at 35 and try your hand at sales in another company, or is it riskier to wait until they realize they’re paying you too much?

      • Wall Street Playboys says

        The question was rhetorical. The answer is that there is no leverage in your personal financial model. Even if the economy is toasty and your income grows at the rate of the company’s net income (call it 5-10%) that doesn’t give you any sort of way to make money correct? You’ll never get rich or financially free at that rate, and if you do it won’t be until many many years down the line of saving low 5 figures annually.

        That said, you should make a risk adjusted decision based on your own career/job. Do not know enough about you, your connections, sales skills or otherwise.

        The point is more of the following, if you have no leverage then there is no way get rich any time soon.

        This blog is an enormous example of this. It will never generate meaningful revenue and would never ever quit a career/real business to start a blog. Trading time for money is not the way to go.

  3. Jake says

    Still in college and figuring this out now. About to finish and this summer I realized how much the real world kicks most people’s ass after college.

    Was at a top engineering school for a bit. Kids I smoked and drank with 2 years ago are no longer the cool kids. GTFO out of there as those kids are all destined for corporate dronehood here soon. They’ll still have good jobs but a lot of them lack the motivation.

    I like all your content. I’m going to work my way up to 15 hour workdays again, start learning languages,and learn to pick up girls sober again.

    And try to hit up sales on my way up to an exec spot. Thanks for the info.

    • Wall Street Playboys says

      It means you need to avoid wasting time. In general when you’re in college you pretend to be busy for 1/2 of the time when in reality no one does anything.

      Once you start working 80+ hours per week you have to be incredibly efficient. IE: timing your laundry with a gym session to sending out fake emails when you’re no longer in the office to make it look like you’re working longer hours than you are.

      In short, you’re going to have to pull a 180 in how you live your day to day life if you want a chance at success.

  4. Fucking Wall Street Bros says

    7) Women Are Not Honest

    You’re allowed to have this complaint, though it’s complete sexist bullshit. But yet…

    If they complain about women? They are not doing well with them.

    You’ve basically admitted you’re a loser.

    • Wall Street Playboys says

      You can’t seem to comprehend english very well.

      Saying someone is dishonest does not make it a complaint.

      What it means is that women lie just as much as men. That’s just a fact and not an issue at all.

    • Banker says

      7) Women Are Not Honest.

      Neither are men. They said women are better liars… so if they’re saying women are better than men, how is that sexist?

  5. Gain says

    For readers who may work in the tech industry, how does one work to get out of middle-management hell and into an executive level position? Or better yet, how does one avoid that position in the first place? How can I measure my value when not employed in a field that does not utilize a performance based incentive structure?

    In the end, how do I get ahead if I am in the tech industry and not Wall Street.

    Obviously you can speak on specifics, but general suggestions would be welcome.

    Thanks.

    • Wall Street Playboys says

      We don’t work in technology so our answers would be of zero value, search for a tech focused blog or find a mentor in the same field as you.

  6. amywatkinsuk says

    Thank you WSPBs
    Another great post.

    Is it possible to do a deepdive on the Healthcare industry? As the ones similar to TMT/FIG?

    Thanks a lot!

  7. Joe says

    Had college friends. They were awesome. Somehow our ties become weak since we are located in different place far away in different directions. Decade later we see who become mediocre and other become successful. Yeah college friends just part of past, part of life, and part of timeline and I find myself appreciate it and focus on present of finding new group that are interested in being efficient, pursuing success, and have good work ethics. I just hope in future, those college friends who became mediocre start hustling so that they can join my circle and push each other upward.

  8. c2w says

    Having trouble deciphering what was meant by this:

    “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.”

    I know the meaning of “bolster” and “sandbag” but they make no sense in these sentences.

    Great post otherwise

    • Wall Street Playboys says

      The point is this.

      Average people are “know it alls” so if you put them in oposition to lie to you they typically lie *up*. They try to say how great they are.

      If the person lies down to you (sandbagging) then it implies he is trying to hide information from you. People who try to set the bar lower are generally smarter, ie they are not trying to impress anyone.

      This explanation should clear it up.

  9. AGG says

    Recently started reading your blog. This post really hit the nail on the head. I know point 11 (sales) is especially important to being successful, but have only a murky idea of where to start. Do you have any specific advice about how to improve sales skills?

    A.

  10. Ricky says

    Only $1k a week huh? Man, I’ve been stupid for not investing $1k a week for the past 15 years of my life. In what reality are tons of even able to put back this mind of money for millionaire status to be considered “no great feat”? I can do simple math too but it doesn’t change the fact that $1k a week post-tax income put towards savings is considered normal at all. That’s $48k a year post tax and if you are in your 20’s you’d have to make at least $150-$200k to be able to do that. Not something many people make…

    Sorry for the cynicism. I do realize $1m isn’t what it used to be, but plenty of people can comfortably live off $1m for long periods of time with some restraint (even more easily if single).

      • Ricky says

        I didn’t fully understand the purpose of your blog because I got started reading articles.

        You have some great info here and I now realize who this blog is targeted at (not me). Interesting to read, nevertheless. Most of it is fairly universal.

        I’ll say #11 (treat your life as sales) is so true. Such a necessary skill! We are selling every single day. Whether we are convincing our girlfriends to fix us a sandwich or negotiating salary, selling is all encompassing.

      • Wall Street Playboys says

        If you can learn to really sell, you’ll redact your entire previous post.

        People who think a million is a lot only get to a few hundred K. People who think a few hundred K only get to $200K or so. This is by their mid 30s.

        Make yourself think bigger, if you know you can sell, find high ticket items to sell!

  11. WS Wannabee says

    I dropped out of college and started my own engineering company, grew it to 20+ customers and 4 employees – $250k/yr company gross. Met two guys starting a development company and partnered with them as equal partners. We shut it down after 3 yrs of success, now I’m 28 and i’ve saved up 300k and am trying to figure out what to do. ( Only 300k because I’ve lived an exciting lifestyle and spent a lot, plus damn girls are expensive.) I have some existing contracts that pay the bills and now I’m focusing on sharpening my finance tools to learn how to develop and sell really large projects. I haven’t mentioned yet but I am 100% focused on solar power projects…first engineering company was solar focused, development company was solar focused etc….
    Now i’m working for a single independently wealthy investor out of Hong Kong and using his cash to build projects. But…it’s not reliable for a number of reasons.
    In college i loved construction, now I realize that I really love Finance because it’s what makes the world turn and burn and besides that I can sell. i.e. I sold well enough to build two of my own businesses.

    If I go finish my undergrad in finance, given my experience in development and cash flow modeling as an entrepreneur and a hard specialization in renewable energy…..is there room for a guy like me on the street? I want to work towards a 300k+ bonus job on the street, preferable work in the city, house in Connecticut kind of life. Am I looking at starting from the bottom? My boys in TX trade options for large oil companies and are making a killing….is trading options a better choice than working in private equity developing projects and companies? If you were me, what would you do? I can continue killing to eat everyday without a formal education and do OK. Should I finish the degree and focus on learning trading or equity mgmt on both buy and sell side?

    • Wall Street Playboys says

      Easy, sick with building a business.

      If you were already able to scale to $250K+ Before you should simply do it again. Don’t party and let the business die, build it to $1M+.

      Going to undergraduate just to make $150K a year makes no sense, don’t waste your time you’d lose 4 years.

  12. A says

    “If you don’t believe this, go find some engineers/quants and take a hard look at their girlfriends. You won’t be happy.”

    So true. That’s the exact reason I’m headed towards engineering sales (selling expensive engineering things).

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