Congratulations, recent graduates. You have achieved something you’ve been working on for a long time and should be proud of your recent life milestone. I hope the graduation parties went well and you are properly feted for all you have accomplished thus far in your young lives.
Now go get a job.
You are now officially an adult and it is time you start contributing to society. The government doesn’t run for free, you know, so it’s time you start kicking in around here to help pay the bills through your taxes. And yes, I realize a great many of you already have been doing that — some of you for many years — and I thank you for the work you’ve already put in thus far. Keep working. You’ve still got a long way to go.
Not only am I encouraging you to get a job, however. I want you to get a tough job. A job you hate. A job that forces you to work until you don’t think you can work anymore. A job where you have no seniority whatsoever — and those who do treat you as such. A job that will give you blisters and calluses. Get a job that will absolutely beat you into the ground every day and make you spend the time you aren’t working dread going back to work the next day.
Why do I suggest getting such a job? Is it because I dislike you? Of course not.
But having a job you absolutely despise will make you a better person, even if it doesn’t seem like it at the time.
If you have recently graduated and are planning on entering the workforce immediately, I sincerely hope you start from the bottom — again, not because I have anything against you, but rather, it will give you a greater appreciation for things as you work your way up the ladder at your chosen place of employment.
Nobody should ever have anything handed to them — that’s how weak leaders are made. An honest day’s work not only gives you a great sense of self-satisfaction as you work your way up the ranks, it also will give you a greater appreciation for those above whom you have risen. If you spend some time working at the toughest job in your company, you won’t forget it — and you’ll have respect for those who eventually inherit the toughest job in the company.
If you are joining the military, I won’t pester you to get a difficult job — you’ve already got one, and for that, you have my thanks and admiration.
If you are getting a summer job before you head off to college, I would strongly suggest making it a tough one. The summer before my freshman year of college, I took a job that I absolutely despised. The hours were long, the work was hard and I got yelled at by adults for roughly seven hours and 59 minutes of every eight-hour workday.
My back hurt. My hands hurt. My feet hurt. My head hurt. More than any of that, however, my ego ached. Every day, I would walk out the door practically in tears, knowing it was going to start all over again in 14 hours.
It was one of the best things that ever happened to me.
When I got to college that fall, I was homesick the entire first semester. When I came home for Christmas break that year, I gave serious thought to not going back and finishing. When I mentioned to my mom the possibility of not going back after Christmas break, the only thing she said to me was, “That’s your decision. But if you do that, you aren’t going to be sitting around the house — you can go get your summer job back and start working.”
That was all I needed to hear. I missed my friends and family — but I certainly didn’t miss that job. I would go back to school, get my degree and begin working at the only job I’ve ever really wanted in my life. Avoiding a job I hated was a powerful motivating force to stay in school.
There’s nothing wrong with a tough job. Any honest job, obviously, is a good job. Some people will spend their entire lives working at back-breaking jobs they may not necessarily enjoy — but do anyway because they need to feed their family.
Get a taste — or, possibly more than a taste — as soon as you can.
It will be good for you.
Reach David Fong at firstname.lastname@example.org; follow him on Twitter @thefong