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What to Expect from an Entry Level Job as a New Grad

Entry Level Jobs

Tips for Getting Entry Level Jobs

When you finish school and you leave behind the jobs you picked up here and there as a student, you’ll generally enter what is referred to as an ‘entry level’ position. But what is an entry level position, what can you expect from it and how can you move up from the entryway?

A Definition of ‘Entry Level’

An entry level position is referred to as a job which a recent graduate of a discipline or degree is eligible to have. Entry level jobs require no prior experience in the field (save the education you received) and it’s expected that you’ll still be learning on the job, usually under a ‘mentor’ or a supervisor who’s good at the job. If you’re savvy about it, you’ll seek out a mentor of your own so that you have someone who can help you learn the ropes quicker and move up the ranks.

There are two kinds of entry level positions: entry level from high school or college and entry level from post secondary school such as a Bachelor’s, Masters or PhD. The difference lies mainly in hours and pay; entry level work from post secondary work is more likely to be full time and more likely to pay better than entry level from high school or college. Obviously this is subject to change based on your discipline!

What You’ll Do in an Entry Level Position

Entry level positions are the bottom of the rung in a company and that means you’ll be doing a lot of the ‘grunt work’ for a business or employer. It can be frustrating and job satisfaction isn’t always high, but the real point of entry level work (from your point of view) is to build up your skills, start networking, learn the ropes of a discipline from the ground up and to show how you can contribute in a positive way to a business. All of these things are important because they not only help you advance in that company, but can also help you find work in another place if you like and not have to start from the bottom.

Entry level work usually means a lot of doing things like paperwork, dealing with customers/clients, working under the supervision of another (Try to get yourself a mentor if you can at this point!), running errands, and generally working in all the cogs and gears of your business and working your way up as you go. It can certainly be frustrating and it doesn’t pay as well as jobs that require a higher level of experience, but if you utilize the opportunities properly, it can be a great start to your career!

The Controversy of the Entry Level Position

Entry level positions were once very common and there is still a mindset that once you graduate, you’ll enter this sort of position. However, in the wake of the recession, combined with technological advances, a baby boomer generation that isn’t retiring and very cautious employers, the entry level position is far from a firm thing. Instead, it is being displaced by co-ops (programs in school that connect students with employers to do some work for credit), outsourcing and temp jobs. This means that many recent graduates are facing down a future where they could spend years in temp work, freelancing, contracts and jobs that aren’t even related to their discipline before finding a steady job in their field of choice. And there are many degrees which are extremely tough to find work in no matter what (sadly). There are many analysts therefore who say that the entry level job is dying and students have to therefore be far more flexible in how they make ends meet after school is done, or stay in school and further their education even more.

It may well be prudent to change your mindset around the ‘entry level’ position. Some industries still have them-such as health and education-while others really do not-such as history. But it is important as a graduate to resign yourself to the need to be flexible, able to work in jobs that may not seem related to your field (But remember, those ‘soft skills’ like communication that are useful in all jobs), and be willing to work in things like temp jobs, contracts and freelancing in order to get ahead.

Entry level positions certainly still exist and they are hugely beneficial for many. But it is important to swallow your pride, get used to doing a lot of the grunt work and be very flexible in what an entry level position means. Remember, you should be getting more out of it than a pay check (though you should be getting paid!) and that means you can find your benefits in just about any job. Good luck!