There’s no doubt recent college grads receive plenty of career advice after they toss their caps in the air and head out to the “real world.” But while people mean well with the guidance they dish to people just starting out, that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the best advice out there.
Five professionals weigh in on some of the treasured words of wisdom they heard as grads that they found to be totally bogus when they got into the workforce.
1. Stop focusing on outside interests
When she graduated from college, Harper Yi, an associate marketing manager at Remezcla, was told to stop pursuing unusual interests like cartoons and toys in favor of more “practical” specialties, a piece of advice she ultimately didn’t follow.
“While it’s important to gain skills that are critical to your field (and softer skills that will work across fields [and] in non-work life), there is nothing wrong with deeply and passionately pursuing your interests,” she said.
Not only do her other interests make her a stronger candidate, she explains, but they also help her stay mentally sane, too.
2. Use the system already in place
When she first got to Washington, D.C., American Security Project Chief of Staff Maggie Feldman-Piltch was told to acknowledge how things were done in the current system and focus on moving up the ladder the “correct” and “established” way.
Luckily, a mentor gave her a different piece of advice that she ended up taking: “You can do things the Washington way, I am going to do things the Elle Woods way.”
She quickly found that creating her own path was far more rewarding.
3. You need to have a job lined up before graduation — or else
During her senior year of college, Digiday Marketing Assistant Danielle Sorensen was scrolling through LinkedIn when she saw a post telling seniors that they had to have a job lined up before graduation day or they were doing something wrong, an idea she found silly.
“I was told to start applying for jobs all year when really I should have been focusing on building connections and relationships all year and then really focusing on specific job opportunities within 1.5 months of graduation,” she said. “This idea that I was racing against my peers to have a job by the graduation day [finish line] was unnecessary stress added.”
Besides, many industries don’t even consider applicants unless they’re able to start immediately; a college senior applying to a job three months out would already be at a disadvantage.
4. You have no right to be picky about your first job
College seniors and recent grads with limited work experience are often told they should just take what they can get, but LaunchPoint Resume Founder Lauren Hamer has found that this line of thinking does more harm than good.
“You’ve paid a lot of money for a degree you’re (hopefully) passionate about and are knowledgeable in some sort of specialty,” she said. “Figure out what that is and apply for those jobs. There’s nothing worse than feeling trapped in a job you hate. It will affect every other aspect of your life.”
5. Stick any job out for at least a year
You’ve probably heard this advice before: regardless of what you end up doing after graduation, you need to stay there for at least a year, or else you’ll seem like a job hopper (cue the scary music!).
But blogger Kris Stoff says that can be bad advice for one important reason: “Why be miserable if it’s not a good fit?”
Obviously, you don’t want to quit every job that’s not great after a couple of days, but if there are other things you want to be doing, why wait an arbitrary 12 months to leave?
Listening to the advice of people who’ve been where you are is always a good thing, but understand that you can always take it with a grain of salt.