Right from the day after one steps into a business school, the anticipation of entering the job life sets in. It is what almost half of the business education is about-- getting a job and excelling at it. The first job might trigger many questions -- starting from the learning to the career aspect in that respective organisation.
Of all the emotions that one may feel about the first job may include "exciting", "challenging", "interesting", "fulfilling" and many other positive words depicting a wonderful and gifting job life. However, this list does not include words such as- "frustrating", which actually might be how one feels in the first job.
Why the frustration
How can the first job after undergraduation be frustrating? While the reasons may vary from person to person or organisation to organisation, there are a few common points.
Expectation vs reality
The biggest reason behind the frustration is most likely an expectation mismatch. At business school, students start weaving the dreams of turning the tables, driving sales, making impactful decisions and doing "big things" to say the least. However, a majority of the business students start their career by entering into a Management Trainee (MT)/ Trainee programme. This is a whole year of rotation across various departments and being accustomed to what goes on at work. Management trainees do have to prove themselves at multiple points of assessments, and while some companies have high bars of performance expectations to graduate from the programme, many feel that such applications are more challenging in terms of work process rather than actual work. In simpler terms, the challenge is more about enduring through everything that goes on at work rather than doing the real work.
Moreover, a lengthy and poorly designed programme often leads to MTs spending just leisure hours at work, having no idea what awaits them in the future. On the other hand, students joining on a non-trainee job role often face a lack of learning and adjustment period. They usually have to jump in straight into work without even understanding what they are doing. Their motto in life turns out to keep the process running and deliver the results even if one has zero ideas of what the results mean.
Education vs job
While business schools are supposed to prepare students for the job market, there seems to be mismatch. First, business schools make students to be managers- managing other people, getting the work done, leading a team etc. are what business school's curriculum focuses on.
However, in the first job of almost all business graduates, it is all about execution. While the propriety of the education system or curriculum is a debatable issue, the conclusion to draw here is that the education system does not include real-life career planning lessons, neither does it makes its students aware of what lies ahead in the real-life battle. Even the mere knowledge of which jobs require doing what can have a better impact on many students' lives.
Vague job description
A job is something that one is busy with for a good portion of the day. If one does not like doing what s/he does, it can be very frustrating. However, there is no way, whatsoever, to know beforehand about the role comprises. The job description at the job ads is vague, often using terms not known to the job applicants and even when at an interview, one asks the question of what the role comprises of, vague answers are given.
This shows that a formal job description rarely exists and an employee's line of sight on where does his/her actions impact the business performance is often not clear. Hence, it can result in dissatisfaction followed by frustration.
No matter what textbook chapters teach students about "work-life balance" - it is a total myth in the corporate arena. If one aims to strike a balance and leaves the office on time, one is often deemed as a lazy or underworking employee. The corporate culture in the country still has a long way to go to promote work-life balance. If anything, it discourages this balance by rewarding employees who unnecessarily linger on in the office until late night while taking many breaks within the actual office hours. Expectations from freshers or new joiners who have just entered the job market are often that they have nothing to do at home and hence should devote hundred per cent even if it means sitting around.
The money factor
Given the current unemployment situation of the country, corporates have taken advantage of the situation very efficiently. In basic economics, with an excess supply of graduates in the markets compared to demands, salary or the price of labour has gone done. However, the pay is often a significant factor in one's first job, since almost any other aspect of the job is unknown to the freshers.
While corporates often disguise their actual salary packages with a bundle of benefits, which one may end up never using, one thing that is unknown to the majority is- the more they pay, the more they make you work. A high salary does not mean just more money-- it means more work, more woes and much more to deal with in everyday work.
Dealing with the frustration
While the first job after undergraduate can be frustrating and exhausting, running away is often not the only situation. Having a good conversation with superiors, using the company's employee surveys or platforms can help one-raise concerns on such issues. The most important thing is to love one's job.
If one likes what one is doing, dealing with the frustration might seem easier. However, if it is the other way around, a well-planned escape might be the route to plan the next career move according to one's preferences.
The writer, after finishing her undergraduation from IBA, University of Dhaka, is working in a financial institution. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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