June is the month where hundreds upon thousands of impressionable young minds are forced from a convent of higher education into the cold, harsh reality of the real world, waiting patiently on that silver spoon they ordered four years earlier to show up on their doorsteps.
The other day my friend Stephanie from Stephanie in Suburbia wrote a blog about dreams, goals and expectations of kids coming out of college. She posed an interesting question:
As a parent, what do we do here? How do we manage expectations without raining on our precious child’s parade?
Growing up, I wanted for nothing, but I also didn’t get everything I wanted. My parents set reasonable expectations for me. For instance, if I wanted a toy, I could tell them over and over I wanted a toy, but I can’t remember many times when they just went and bought me a toy. I got nice things, but on special occasions.
My Dad worked really hard for our family. We watched him leave every morning, waving goodbye with the I Love You sign language sign. Although my Mom was a stay-at-home Mom, she volunteered quite a bit at school. And we knew she had a career before she was a Mom. We also heard stories of their craft store they opened and ran for a few years before I was born.
I went to college with the idea that people went to college to get a good job to get nice things. Honestly, looking back I’m not sure if I started school with an entitled attitude, but I think somewhere in the mix, maybe because of the professors whose job security depended on nurturing the attitude that school opens all sorts of doors, I started thinking that having a degree meant I could waltz right into a job.
I interned at a company and was so excited to hear they were hiring a full-timer for the job I had done all summer. I interviewed and was crushed to find they found someone with more experience.
See, that’s the key. It’s not education, it’s experience. Sometimes, a job is a job. Sometimes, getting a paycheck and solid work experience is more valuable than making sure you’re working in your field. I’m of the mindset that the mark of an enterprising young person is that they can make McDonalds seem like it’s a job in their field if they get creative enough.
My first job was selling newspaper ads, a job anyone could do. Literally, anyone. They could have hired me the second I graduated high school and I would have fit the qualifications. I could have stayed out of the job market for another few months and found something else, but I knew that job was important to building experience.
There was once an intern in our office who said she was moving to Atlanta and was planning on working in PR. “Good luck with that,” I told her, “I had to work selling newspaper ads for a year after I graduated.”
“I? Would NEVER do that,” she sneered.
Every semester we bid adieu to another set of interns with an ice cream cake party. We go around the table and dish out our sage wisdom. Most of my coworkers tell them to follow their dreams and never settle. When the conversation gets to me, I have the exact opposite advice.
Sometimes you have to settle. Sometimes you aren’t in the place to take your dream job. Make the job you find your dream job, and the rest will fall into place. Most importantly, you’re not entitled to anything because you have a degree, so get it out of your head right now. You are NOT too good for a job just because you have a couple extra letters attached to the back of your name.
So in response to the question Stephanie poses, I’m going to raise Baby Blogworthy to know he can do anything he wants, but no one is going to hand it to him. He has to work for what he wants, and wanting something doesn’t’ mean you’ll get it right away. Just because life gives you a “yellow light” on your dreams doesn’t mean you have to give up — you might just have to wait. I don’t want entitled to ever be a part of his world, because none of us are entitled to anything.
Of course, this is easy because right now he’s a baby. I know it’s going to be harder to manage this, especially when those little eyes look up at me. But I know I want him to be appreciative of everything he has and realize how hard work can pay off.
I’d also like to award Stephanie with the MA in Inspiration from It’s Blogworthy University. Thanks for giving me some food for thought!