Pardon my French, but if there’s something 20-somethings across the country are tired of hearing, it’s overused, overly-cliché and flat-out wrong career advice. Now, the 50-year-old who told you this advice might be following it to a T, but as fresh graduates and new members of the workforce, it is pretty improbable, if not completely impossible, to follow any of these three cliché tips and be successful.
1. Do What You Love
If only it was that easy. Here’s your diploma, now enjoy your illustrious career as starting quarterback for the 49ers. Thanks for attending Postgrad University, would you prefer to start on the buy side at Goldman Sachs or Merrill Lynch? What our parents didn’t realize when they were giving us this advice, is that when they graduated college, they became a part of a minority category that stood out from the general population. There weren’t plumbers with degrees in finance. When we graduated college it was just another step that everyone went through. College is the new high school. So no, we can’t just walk down Wall Street and pick out which job we like best. In fact, just getting any job is a difficult task. The odds of us getting a job we love (or can even stand) are slim to none. Besides, the American dream is about working your way up to the job you love, not starting in it. So for the postgrad freshman out there, don’t hold out for your dream job at 22. Find one that will afford you the luxury of moving out of your childhood bedroom.
2. Be The First In, Last Out
We hear this all the time, especially at our entry level positions. To stand out, you need to be the first one in the door and the last one to leave. To our parents’ generation this advice was pure gold. They showed up early, were the last to leave and then got promoted faster and rose in the ranks until they retired with a gold watch symbolizing 30 years of dedication to the same company. Well, if I last ten years here I will consider my professional career a total failure. To our generation this is an insane concept. We took jobs we didn’t want just so we could sustain our beating hearts. Unless you’re part of the 0.03% of the country who got a job they love (looking at the NFL draft class of 2012), you probably have plans to be out of that company within three years. We show up early, we are the last to go home and then we leave the company after no one notices the extra effort. The best case is that your boss takes notice and writes you a great letter of recommendation. But it’s far more probable that your boss sucks at his/her job, so not only will your extra office hours go unnoticed, but you probably won’t get a coherent recommendation. You probably shouldn’t even ask. So work the hours you’re paid for and enjoy the time you have off. Besides, most of us only have about 20 hours of actual work to accomplish per week.
3. Early To Bed, Early To Rise Makes A Man Healthy, Wealthy And Wise
Benjamin Franklin…don’t get me wrong, I love the man, but going to bed early and waking up early has jack shit to do with my bank account. Sure, it might have some correlation to my health and my general mood, but some of the most successful people in this world are the ones who sleep two hours a night during the week, because success and the pursuit of it drives them to near insanity. I guarantee you there is no difference in the average income of people who wake up at 6am and the people who wake up at 7am. None. Here’s another thing: this piece of advice was probably given when 75% of Americans were farmers, which in that case, makes perfect sense. But for cubicle warriors around the world, getting your day started early probably holds zero direct impact on your income. Hit that snooze button.