You may want to snatch up any job that you’re offered, or whatever job offers the most money. But, keeping in mind that you might need a few steps up the ladder to land your dream job, it pays to take a breath and ask yourself, “Is this really the right job for me?” Trust your instincts and consider these other practical matters:
1. Office culture. Even if the job looks great on paper, you might not enjoy being at that particular office. Take note of the environment when you go in for an interview. You can also ask about the office culture at the interview or ask for introductions to your potential coworkers. If it seems fast-paced and high-stressed and that’s what you thrive on, that’s great; but maybe you’d be more comfortable in a low-key space. Or is it noisy and chaotic, and you prefer quiet and organized? Maybe it’s staffed mostly by young people, and you’d like to be part of a more diverse work force. If any of these is a deal-killer for you, that’s OK. You don’t want to get overly dramatic about it, but you want to set yourself up for success.
2. The benefits package. Having employer-provided healthcare is only going to get more important, so even if you’re still on your parents’ plan, find out how much you’ll pay for health coverage and what it includes. Also find out about 401K plans, vacation time, telecommuting opportunities and other perks (free breakfast Fridays, we’re looking at you).
3. Commute time. Is it going to take you two hours to get to your job and two hours home? That’s a lot of time spent commuting. It could also be a lot of money; add up the commuting cost—gas money, public transportation, tolls, parking—to see how big a chunk that takes from your salary. Is it worth it? If it’s not, then you have your answer.
4. Room to grow. A fair question to ask an interviewer is, “What are the opportunities for career growth here?” In your beginning stages in the working world, you don’t want to be immediately stuck in a rut. Ask about the steps, milestones and success markers for advancement or whether there are training programs, post-graduate school reimbursement or other educational benefits.
5. Community involvement. As an Alpha Phi, you likely took part in many charitable activities, and you might want to keep that momentum going. While you could volunteer outside of the office, you might find that you respect and feel a closer affinity toward a company that supports or encourages volunteering as a team.
6. The next job. You should think next steps when you’re taking that first one, because each one could potentially lead to another. In other words, this job may have the cool self-serve latte machine, but does it get you where you want to be down the road? If the job responsibilities aren’t in line with where you see yourself in the future, then put the brakes on now, because it’s easier to start on the right path then try to find it later.