It’s Intern Season

I had the privilege recently of sitting down with some our summer interns who were interested in my job and what I do. I offered to take them to lunch and let them pick my brain about the specific career path that I took to get to where I am.

It was really fun! They asked great questions and really made me think about the steps I took that landed me into the job I have today.

But the best part of the conversation came at the end of the meeting. We had talked about my field and what it is and how I do my job and all of that fun stuff. But at the end, one of the students just asked for some blanket life advice.

OMG! Young people? Wanting life advice? Sincerely? YES PLEASE. I will tell it like it is!

So, I thought I would share with you the same things I told them. Are you ready?

The first job you have is not the ONLY job you’ll ever have

If you find yourself in your first job post-college and its not something you love, or you find that the work hours are too demanding, or you realize that your boss is kind of a jerk, it’s okay to find a new job!

I think a lot of times people get so grateful for that first job out of college that they forget that the entire point of a job is that you are selling your skills to the highest bidder. It’s okay to look for a new position that will pay more, or that will give you the opportunity to learn a new skillset, or that has better benefits.

You don’t owe your first job anything. Remember the mantra – it’s not personal, it’s business. Repeating that has gotten me through some tough times.

Know Your Worth

Did you negotiate the pay at your first job? Or at any job? You should have.

When I got my first every job out of college I was offered $37, 500 a year and I accepted it. I did not negotiate. I did not even know I could negotiate. I accepted that offer and I thought I was RICH. RICH I TELL YOU!

It was only much later on that I realized that accepting that job at that price set me up to make significantly less money at that organization than I could have.

I encouraged the students I spoke with to negotiate. The worst that company can say is “no, this is our cap.” And then you can choose to accept that position or not. But I’ve never heard of a company withdrawing an offer just because someone asked for more money.

Sure if they’re offering you 50k and you ask for 100k, you might come across as out of touch and they might want to wash their hands of you. But if they offer you 50k and you say, very politely, “I’m so excited about this offer. I can’t wait to sit down and go through it. However, I was really hoping to come in at 55k,” there is a great chance that you’re going to get that extra 5k! Or that they’re going to come back and offer you 52k. Or whatever.

Bottom line, you are leaving money on the table if you don’t negotiate.

Take Advantage of those 401ks!

The company I work for, and the company these students were interning at, offers and unprecedented 9% match on 401k contributions.

I let them know that in no uncertain terms that if they did not take that match as soon as they got here that they were throwing money down the drain.

When I got my first job out of college and had my first 401k, I think I was contributing a measly 2% of my $37, to my retirement accounts! If I could go back in time I’d visit my 23 year old self and find my all that old paperwork and update those contributions! (Is it technically forgery if it’s your past self?)

I talked with the students about the importance of setting themselves up for future success. They’re young and if they put that money away right away, before it ever hits their accounts, they’ll never miss it!

To Summarize

I got to sit down with some awesomely motivated interns and impart all my super-wise advice to their young, impressionable minds.

I am so impressed with these students. Not only that they were brave enough to approach me to learn more about what I do, but that they asked such thoughtful and smart questions.

Do you have any young people in your life that you want to mentor? Have you ever had the opportunity to mentor anyone? How did it go? I really want to hear about it! Drop me a line at or leave me a note in the comments!

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