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Top 3 Things New Technology Grads Need to Consider Before Accepting Their First Job

Written by

Team Egen

Published on

Jan 04, 2022

Reading time

4 min read

Is the college diploma already in hand? Learn the top things recent tech grads need to consider before venturing into a first-time career path.

Whether you are looking towards graduation with starry-eyed enthusiasm or have a feeling of existential dread, when the diploma lands in your hand, it’s like a skydive freefall into reality. Let’s talk about what questions you can ask yourself as a new grad to ensure you land on the perfect first job to launch an epic career.

Here’s a not-so-closely guarded secret. Your first job out of school sets the foundation of jobs to come. It is the first real entry on your resume, the base of your salary history, and the launchpad to help you hone your skills for the future. It is important to consider your choices, so you have the most solid starting point possible.

When job hunting, it is just as important to interview the company as much as they are interviewing you. Even though school is over, you still need to do some homework to make the best decision possible. If you don’t take time to consider a job that will be a good fit for your personality and likes, you could be setting yourself up for failure.

As a tech grad, you have a lot of options. You will need to evaluate what will work best for you, where you will you be most comfortable, and what position will offer you the best opportunity to be successful.

  1. What kind of tech company do you want to work for? For a long time, the holy grail in tech was Silicon Valley.  Giants like Google, Amazon, and Facebook were the most sought-after companies.  As time passed, some of the shine faded. It is easy to be impressed with big campuses and perks like on-site haircuts, yoga, restaurants and even laundry service – until you realize those perks are designed to keep you chained to a desk and away from the world. Still, those big tech companies look good on a resume, right? In giant tech firms it can be easy to become a small cog in a big wheel where you will lose the opportunity to be recognized and contribute on a broader scale.  

    Big-name consulting firms can be the same way. It might set up an impressive pedigree, but what’s beneath the reputation? You might work with big-name clients, but how much flexibility is there in the tech stacks you use, the projects you take, or the teams you work with? Big firms also mean more competition. Smaller consultancies might offer more diverse and innovative projects. You could have more visibility (and with it an opportunity to shine) and often more responsibility.  

    Another option is a direct development role at an in-house department either at a startup or an enterprise company. Direct hires allow you to get highly specialized and deeply understand a specific system. You become an expert in your space and with your tech stack. On the flip side, it can get stale, and you might end up looking to move sooner rather than later. It’s important to look at what factors you consider most important when choosing which type of company is the best fit.

  2. What is the environment and company culture? It might not feel like environment matters, especially if the money is great, but when it comes down to it, you spend 1/3 of your life at work – 90,000 hours in an average person’s lifetime. The company culture and environment that makes you miserable just isn’t worth it.

    When evaluating a company culture, some questions to ask yourself include: Are employees valued and treated with respect? Does everyone get the chance to contribute and are they trusted to do their jobs? Is the team supportive, competitive, or cutthroat? The now-defunct retailer Sears was famous for the cutthroat culture when it was desperately trying to turn around. Teams were incentivized to work against each other to make their personal departments more successful to keep their jobs. This led teams to actively sabotage their co-workers and ultimately the demise of the company.

    It’s not easy to discern the culture – especially in a virtual interview – but digging around social media, reaching out to current or former employees, and observing the behaviour of everyone in the interview process can give you some context. Don’t discount the importance of culture when deciding to take a job.

  3. We should talk about money, right? Everyone wants fair and equitable compensation for their talent and time. It is important to have realistic expectations for salary and remember that money isn’t always everything. Countless new grads are often interviewed, and plenty expects a corner office, expense account, and CEO level pay right out of school. That just isn’t how it works. Know your worth, understand the market, and negotiate hard, but there is a clear delineation between confidence and arrogance. You have already lost a negotiation if the hiring manager won’t take you seriously when your demands are disassociated from reality.

    More importantly, salary isn’t always everything. How flexible in the workplace? What is the work/life balance? How many opportunities do you have available for training and development? Is any company equity is available? (Don’t forget about the culture!) The entire compensation package beyond salary should be fully evaluated – those perks and benefits can be worth more in some cases.

The bottom line is this – the first job out of college is an important life transition and the decision of where to set up shop has long-ranging consequences to your finances, emotional wellbeing, and long-term career trajectory. Don’t just take the first offer that comes along, but also don’t be so choosy that you discount an amazing opportunity because it isn’t what looks most impressive on paper. Make sure you take an honest look at yourself and consider what will be the best fit for you personally.

Are you a recent college graduate and want to learn more about opportunities at Egen?

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