Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Chapter 24.04 : 5 Things You Shouldn’t Expect in Your First Fresh-Graduate Job

1. Ridiculously High Paying Salary

Let me ask you this, how much do you think you’re worth? You probably had a number in your head according to your personal research on fresh grads salary in the market or based on what your peers had told you. But, guess what? You probably don’t deserve them. Unless you can justify your value worth of working experience that you have accumulated from previous working related experiences either through freelancing, or part-time jobs with a valid and solid portfolio (promoters and waitressing doesn’t count unless you’re applying for a sales or F&B position), then you probably have a slightly higher chance of getting an additional RM100-RM300 on top of what they offer you. Other than that, if you’re just a fresh-graduate who knows nothing but to drive around, do chores, throw in likes and comments on Facebook, you probably don’t deserve those unrealistic figures of yours.
However, for any kind of job, they’ll always be a probation period even for starting jobs for fresh grads. During the probation period, the starting salary will not be as what you expect to be and could be 30-50% less from your expectations. This is the case, so that fresh grads could be familiar with the company culture, procedures, workload, stress, etc. instead of earning that RM3k-4k figure while you make shit lot of mistakes, and not being contributive to your company performance. But freight not, upon your confirmation after your probation, you will most likely deserve that increment you’ve earned throughout those probation days. When I first started out in my first company, they offered me 30% lower than my expected salary which was actually below the market rate. I wasn’t very happy about it, but I suck it up and told myself that I wasn’t here for the money, I was here for the experience. True enough, upon my confirmation, my salary shoot up 42% and I was pretty satisfied from then onwards.

So, stay patient, work hard, and never give up! A good company will offer you the range that you should be earning. That RM3k/4k salary will definitely be yours someday (if not, that company is probably a lousy company and you probably have to leave lol).

2. That Your Expensive Graduate Certificate is Everything

Congratulations from graduating from one of the most expensive universities in Malaysia! But, guess what? No one cares! When I was still studying in a private university under the affiliation of a UK Top 10 uni program, many of my lecturers like to emphasize how “special” the program is, and each time they said that, I had to roll my eyes because I knew it didn’t matter to any of my employers who wants to hire me. Let’s be realistic, have you ever come across an employer who was interested to know what you have studied during uni? Obviously no, because firstly, they’ll most likely to ask you to “describe about yourself”, and you have only 1 minute to impress your employer when he/she ask that. So, frankly speaking, you’re just gonna brush through on what were your majors, and the rest you should be talking about your achievements, freelances/part-times, what you can contribute to the company, etc.

Based on personal interviews I had with a few managerial employers from medium-corporation firms in Malaysia, some employers snorted and roll their eyes when they say I come from this private university, but of course, during my internship/employment, I surely proofed them wrong with my right attitude and diligence. Which leads to my next point, some employers shared that they don’t really bother which university you come from as long as the candidate possesses the right attitude, right background skills and knowledge, and at least a minimum education qualification (SPM/Diploma/Degree). They don’t really bother which university you graduate from because when it comes to work, they need someone who is passionate and driven, willing to be initiative and uncomfortable when it comes to solving problems, and handling stress and pressure well, which can’t be seen on a piece of paper. Some industrial employees I interviewed also shared that they regretted taking such an expensive course because it didn’t matter to their company because even if candidate A comes from an establish university, and candidate B comes from a public university; both with the same qualifications and grade results will still be able to qualified to do the same work.

So, regretting for taking that RM50k-80k course? Well, don’t be, because certain universities offers the best qualified teachers and learning opportunities which some public/government uni doesn’t provide (e.g.: publishing your research journals, school trips, etc.). Well, at least you get what you paid for right?

3. To Be Accepted in a Big Famous Corporate Company

Unless of course, you’re a scholarship holder and/or you manage to crawl your way through university with a first class honours bachelor degree, you have higher chances of securing a job interview with big corporations like Nestle, E&A, Unilever, etc. because they first filter based on candidates results (so, if you’re not under the first class honours category, better luck next time, maybe you should have studied a little harder during your finals after-all). Aside from that, if you’re not famous enough, have never accomplished anything in life during your studies, no internal connections with their people, etc. Well, face it, you don’t belong to the 10% of the successful candidates to secure an interview with them.

But don’t throw in the towel too early. Doesn’t mean you don’t get to work in your dream company, doesn’t mean you don’t deserve it. Start small, and work it off to accumulate your working experiences and shove them in your future employers face. Sometimes, it’s a good thing for you to start at the bottom-end of the career ladder, and learn it through the hard way. As you slowly inch your way up the ladder, soon big companies/head-hunters will come hunting for you because of your knowledgeable experience in that field. You’ll basically have all the knowledge needed which some top managers don’t even have, which is good so that when you make decisions in the future, you know how it affects the other departments/people who are working under you. I have a client who was a very good mentor during my previous employment, and even though we were supposed to be professional partners, he’s very willing to share his insights and experience on how to observe, analyze and understand the store promotions, store placement strategies, etc. in which I wasn’t aware of it, and no one from my current industry has even taught me about it. My client was just like one of us before, a fresh graduate. He wanted to pursue a career in FMCG line, but he had to take up different jobs from merchandizing, being a retail buyer, sales executive, marketing executive, etc. to be where he is today, in a big corporate principal firm. The most inspiring thing about him, is that even he is at the top of the management, he’s very understanding when we couldn’t give him the results he wanted because he went through that bottom-line phase before. Many top management who have never work at the bottom line wouldn’t understand how certain decisions they make is totally impossible to achieve for those working under them because they don’t know what these people go through. So sometimes you may wonder, how these kind of people can even end up in such a high ranking position? Go figure.

4. To Be Spoon-Fed at Work
"What?! You're telling me that fresh graduates even gets spoon feed to?! Not fair!"
Not everything is gonna be served to you on silver platter. Your boss ain’t gonna be free to constantly look out for your mistakes and protect you. Have any pending questions in mind, or unsure if what you’re doing is right? Make sure to always ASK GOOD QUESTIONS. Firstly, do it by yourself based on your understanding and/or based on how previous employees have done the similar task, and when you come to a point where you’re really stuck, ask. It’s okay if you make mistakes and get screwed up by your boss, at least you’re taking initiative to learn. You’ll also actually learn a lot faster from making mistakes. There was one time my company hired this new executive at work. She was assisting a colleague on certain administrative work. She was good in everything else, but when it comes to problems which she can’t solve it on her own, the colleague has to do it for her instead of her proposing on the solutions to solve her own problem.

This may not look too well on your performance review as you may be remarked as “not initiative”, or “poor problem solving skills”, or “not motivated and passionate in work”, etc. Thus, it’s very important to be curious at work, and stay hungry to learn everything and anything.

5. To Be the Hero of the Company

It’s great that you have big dreams of wanting to change the world, or you have a creative idea to launch this huge project that could make you famous. But don’t be foolish with your own idealistic dreams, because who do you think you are? I’m not saying to ditch your dreams and ideas to be the next average employee, working from 9 to 5, working just enough to get by, and doing what you’re asked to do. I’m just saying, there’s always a right time to do it, but the right time is not when you step in the company on your first day. Because, you don’t know anything about the company, nobody knows you, and when you get into trouble, who is gonna help you? Frankly speaking, nobody.
Unless you're Gal Gadot. Gal Gadot could be anyone's hero!

First and foremost, you need to know your way around your company, how certain procedures work and doesn’t work, who is the biggest influencer in the company, and who you could rely on for useful information. Keep your ideas or big plans in your pocket, and tell no one until you fully understand how everything works, and once opportunity arises… baby, it’s your time to shine.

I had this client who was an establish brand in the retail market, but wasn’t so establish in the e-commerce segment side in terms of their brand awareness. I wanted to establish a proper digital platform to build a brand presence to maintain a good customer relationship with its end-customers and its products. However, due to their complicated internal procedures, it wasn’t a good time to propose until an opportunity came up. There was an upcoming sports event in Malaysia and we were invited to attend to a booth during the event. I took the opportunity to establish an Instagram profile for them, and propose an activity to help boost their brand presence by inviting customers to like their Instagram page in return for a free goodie bag. The client gave the green light, and the result was tremendous! During the event day, we had achieved 400 likes within a few hours. From that onwards, my client constantly uses the Instagram platform for other events even when I wasn’t handling the brand anymore. It was my best proposal and what’s important is that it makes a difference even when I’m not around anymore. So, the moral of the story: stay unfoolish, stay humble, and be patient. Your time will come.

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It’s normal for fresh graduates to have a certain level of expectations, after all we’re still humans. As I was once a fresh graduate, these were once my expectations too (except no.2 & 4 though), but it may differ from individual from individual. Expectations comes along when we ASSUME we need to have what others are currently having, thus the expectations on ourselves to perform and achieve that STATUS QUO is what makes us feel miserable because you’re just NOT GOOD ENOUGH like them. So, don’t sweat it, everyone is different and your career is your personal journey, not your parents, friends, or your teachers. Everyone’s pace is different, so take it slow and easy at your own pace.

After being denied and rejected from a few job interviews, I dropped my expectations and after that, everything else seems to fall into places. Coincidence? Maybe, maybe not. After working for a few years, I was still where I wanted to be and looking back, I wished I had the chance to tell the younger me on managing my own expectations when it comes to my first job-hunting. It’s best to have no expectations, but it’s still okay to have a certain level of expectations on your own, but you gotta be responsible on the aftermath feelings and thoughts when you don’t get what you want in the end.
P.S: this article is written solely on my opinion and examples are given based on my personal working experience from various industries. Personal expectations may differ according to individuals, situations, luck, work requirements, etc. Company names and interviewee's name had been taken out for privacy purposes.
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