For most students, getting any job offer is a big deal. The job market is tough! There’s tons of competition and most students and recent grads have little to offer in the way of substantive experience. But let’s say you’re one of the lucky ones, and you have not one, but multiple employment opportunities from which to choose. How do you decide which job is the right job?
Don’t make the mistake of taking this decision lightly! A job is a long-term commitment, and leaving too soon or under bad circumstances can cause considerable problems down the road. Here’s what we suggest:
1. Money talks
There’s no question that your finances should be on your list of considerations. By no means are we suggesting that you take the position with the highest salary if that is all it has going for it. But unless you’re in a position to be flexible – you live with six roommates or your parents and have no student loan debt – you’re going to have to support yourself and most likely pay down student debt. Think about how much you need to survive (start by putting together a simple budget), and then increase that figure by 10% – that’s the minimum you need. Your “quality of life,” which is essentially a term used to describe your access to disposable income, is determined by how much money you have left over after paying your expenses. Want to drive a fancy European car? Well, you’re going to need to earn more. Don’t care, because this is just your first job and you’re comfortable on a budget? Good to know! Think about what’s financially important to you and how your financial goals line up with your other life goals.
2. Think long-term
Not all jobs are going to function as a springboard to success. Some of them are just that – jobs. They pay the bills, they give you something to talk about on your resume, and they give you a place to hang that hard-earned diploma. But even entry-level work can position you for great next steps; you just need to consider all your angles. Sales jobs, retail, office management: each of these offers a building block if you’re savvy and opportunistic. Think about your long-term plans and figure out what you can learn now, then take advantage!
3. Demographics and location
How big is the company? How many people will be in your department or on your team? If you want opportunity for advancement, look to the bigger organizations. Want intimacy and a boss that you can actually know? Go smaller. What’s the ratio of entry-level to management professionals? What’s the company culture? How old are most of the folks at your level, and what is the standard level of education / experience required to move up?
Don’t stop with just personnel – think about location, too. How close are you to amenities that are important to you? Do you want to be downtown or in the easily-accessed suburbs? What’s your commute, and are you close to public transportation? Where will you park, eat lunch, or stop at the grocery store in the way home?
Your happiness with your new position will depend on more than just your pay and your boss, so take all of these factors into consideration when choosing between options. It’s okay to ask questions during the interview process (just avoid questions about salary and benefits during your first meeting!) and you can ask for a reasonable amount of time to weigh your options!
Choose wisely, and get to work!