15 hard lessons fresh grads learn from first jobs out of college

15 hard lessons fresh grads learn from first jobs out of college
Reality bites – or does it? Among the gems: 'Panindigan mo lahat nang papasukan mo.'

MANILA, Philippines – You can mentally prepare all you want, but the move out of college and to your first job is a major upheaval, and it takes a lot of time and effort to adjust. 

From being seniors at school, you’re suddenly the most junior at work. You’ve yet to get the hang of all the new rules and the new project you’ve got to do. Maybe you haven’t made new friends just yet. It can leave you feeling inadequate and ungainly.


A few college grads recently shared some words of wisdom for fresh grads just about to enter the workplace in a series of videos for Rappler. Here are just some of the things that stood out: 

1. ‘Some meals you’ll eat by yourself.’

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Family dinners, brunch with friends, some milestones and occasions will be missed because of work. And sometimes, you won’t have anyone to sit with. Work will be a constant balancing act – so draw a line and understand your personal non-negotiables. 

2. “You’ve given your best shot and minsan wala pa ring lumalabas.” (You’ve given it your best shot and sometimes, nothing comes of it.) 

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It’s part of working life – sometimes, no matter how hard you’re working, the results won’t come. 

You may want to examine each component of your process and make little tweaks to see if one of these may be negatively impacting you. Bring in a peer or a more experienced mentor who may be able to point out something you’re missing. 

3. “Hindi totoo na (it isn’t true that) if you’re doing what you love you’ll never work a day in your life. You’re still gonna get stressed. You’re still gonna cry.”

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In this way, work is a lot like love – no matter how lovely the relationship, someone can still break your heart. 

Remember why you took this job in the first place – and if it is still aligned with your plans and where you are in life, you may want to stay. Rappler columnist Jonathan Yabut often says, don’t make a permanent decision based on a temporary emotion. 

4. “There’s so much more pressure to get things right the first time.” BUT: “Even the best people, even the people who have worked their the longest, still make mistakes.”

Mistakes – you will make them, they may trip you up, and what you decide to do after the fact will define key moments in your career. 

Never deny your mistakes if you know you had a hand in it. Admit it gracefully, then correct immediately. 

5. “You just learn. Don’t give up. And just try your best the next day.”

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And as the days pass and the scars from your errors fade, the lessons remain. 

6. When I first got my salary, it was such a good feeling.” BUT: “…then I realized how, how easy it was to lose money as well.”

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7. Working hours:

  • Minsan (Sometimes) 24 hours straight working on something.”
  • Ang dami mong hinahabol na deadline.” (You run after a lot of deadlines.)
  • Ang laki ng competition. Ang laki rin ng expectations ng office.” (The competition is huge. The expections of the office are also great.)

Eight hours is standard, but sometimes, especially in the beginning while you’re still learning the ropes, you need more. Don’t shy away from putting in the extra time. 

8. “Don’t fall into the trap thinking that you’re incapable of doing anything because everyone’s more experienced.”


9. “Use your age to your advantage.” 

Remember, there are things you know that others don’t. Maybe you’re Snapchat-savvy and the company needs help with their account, or you’re a whiz with Excel while others at work are struggling with an outdated Worksheet.

Where there are entrenched processes, there are opportunities to update and grow. Make it your business to know, and pounce when the time is right. 

10. “‘Yung puso ko para sa isang tao o iyong puso ko para sa vision ko?

(Is my heart for one person, or is my heart for my own vision?)  

What’s the hardest thing about making a relationship work early in your career? Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. Sometimes there’s room – and sometimes there’s none. 


11. “Have a two-sentence explainer of what your job is.”

This is especially true for those with jobs that didn’t exist 10, 15 years ago. If you know that your work can’t easily be summed up in a word or two and needs some background, practice how to relay your role in just a few seconds.

It may come in handy one day when you have only a few minutes to impress a prospective employer. 

12. “Don’t go for the job that has the best salary….You go where you see a future.”

There’s always a debate when it comes to the topic of salary or the compensation package. If you can afford to take a lower-paying job though, as long as other more urgent needs are met, there may be value in staying in a job that gives you access to great mentors or a clear path forward in the industry.

Ultimately, it depends on you and what you need the most at the moment. 

13. “Panindigan mo lahat nang papasukan mo.” (Stand by everything you decide to get into.)

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Once you do choose your work, do your best while you are there – no matter what the job means to you. And stand by your work and your decisions – and be accountable for your actions. 


14. “Your grades, your titles, whatever you earned in your school life, it doesn’t matter anymore once you enter this real world.”

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The more work experience you accumulate, the more relevance it gains over your diploma, as it’s more specific to your chosen field. “They may get your foot in the door but it’s not gonna sustain you at all,” says Mel Mauleon. 

15. “If you don’t know what your passion is, also, it’s not the end of the world.” 

You are here to figure things out along the way. Your chosen path may still shift or go in a different direction altogether. 

Good luck! – Rappler.com

Start your career right by finding the right job. Click here to find fresh grad jobs in the Philippines on the Rappler x Kalibrr Job Board.

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