A while back I was the training department head, called the “N7” in department head speak. One of the divisions I owned was indoc, which has new people at our command before they go to their jobs. Indoc gives new Sailors a place to work while they get their stuff moved in, find a place to live, and finish required paperwork they need for their new jobs. This division included our junior officers, young ensigns that have recently graduated college and attended a few weeks of Navy training. When I took over the job initially, I thought I would enjoy mentoring them upon arrival.
I was in for a rude awakening when one of my first check-ins told me “I’m really concerned about work/life balance.” I told him “Uhm, you’ve had a lot of life and not a lot of work, so yes, you’re out of balance.” It probably seemed like a dick-thing to say at the time, but it was true.
Your first job out of college is a big challenge. You have to prove yourself to your employer and your fellow employees, plus you have to learn about your industry. This holds true for Naval Officers, who have to learn about the Navy, their specific job, and how to lead Sailors, all while getting qualified. Oh, and occasionally contribute to the local community. Until you get qualified, it’s an uphill battle that takes much more than 40 hours a week.
Increasingly people are graduating college with flawed ideas about work and a lack of critical thinking skills. I’m shocked at the junior officers who can’t write a cohesive paper, can’t arrive on time for work, and think that the Navy’s rules about physical readiness are flexible. Part of the point of college was to eradicate these bad habits, but college is increasingly becoming an extension of high school, rather than an adult incubator. I used to think “adulting” memes were cute, but now I sadly realize they honestly reflect the internal thoughts of most graduates.
So if you’re a soon-to-be college graduate, and you’re looking forward to a graduation speech about taking on the world and how you’re going to solve world hunger, all within a 9 to 5, Monday to Thursday workweek…please stop yourself. Get a job, and get a mentor or two that are successful. Talk with someone successful about finances and how you build wealth in your twenties. The “cool kids” that are drinking their pay checks and scamming out of paying student loans? They aren’t going to be the cool kids in their thirties. Trust me, it won’t mean working yourself to death, but it will involve a bit of sacrifice and thinking ahead. The thing is, you’ll find real happiness and satisfaction when you do.