Moving Up the Food Chain

At dinner last night, a friend who’s in college asked me what it’s like to move from top of the world in college to being at the bottom in the workplace when you graduate. I had three quick ideas to share, and I thought it may be worth capturing here too.

1. Business As Usual

Going from college to the workforce isn’t the first or the last time we graduate from one place to another. There are lots of potential experiences to draw from — moving from picture books to chapter books, from being a high school senior to a freshman in college, from junior varsity to varsity. It worked out then, and it’ll work out now.

2. Learning

Being the most inexperienced person in the room is a tremendous opportunity to learn. You can ask lots of questions, make more mistakes, and ask for help and mentorship. In fact, there’s no need to wait to take advantage of junior status. While still a student, it’s remarkably easy to approach others for advice and guidance.

3. Impact

Even though it feels like a steep drop from being the top of the food chain to the bottom, I suspect this is the wrong metric to focus on. A better one may be impact. A college student who’s the head of a student club may have a large immediate impact on the club, but the club’s impact on society is likely small. A junior employee's individual influence on the organization may be small, but that bit of contribution may help the company impact millions of lives.