There are no grades in the “Real World”

One topic of conversation that has come up again and again amongst my friends when we discuss our jobs is…

How well are we doing at our jobs?

Are we excelling or falling behind?

Where is the A+ or C- grade to give us a sense of where we fall on the spectrum?

The short answer: There is none.

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Unlike college, your job will not give you a regular stream of tests or exams to show you (and your boss) where you fall on the scale. Instead, typically there is a mid-year, and end of year review, and that’s it. When I first started working I had no idea how my manager felt about my work. I received some feedback here and there on specific tasks, but it was rare. It was not until several months into my job that she pulled me aside and told me that I was truly excelling at my Administrative Assistant tasks. I was surprised and relieved to know that she recognized my hard work and that other departments were also approaching her to tell her about me. It was the first time I received any type of feedback that felt like a grade, my usual way to gauge my work.

These sporadic reviews were the perfect reminder that in the working world, there is not someone who will give you a constant stream of feedback. Also, no one is going to hold your hand. Instead, you are expected to work hard and not receive constant reassurance.

That being said, reviews are very important and helpful aspects of any job. When I first started working I set up several personal and professional goals for myself. Over the course of the last year I have reflected on these goals and whether or not I have achieved them. At my end of year review in June, my manager reviewed these goals and commented on whether or not I had work towards them. It was helpful that we both noted my goals, giving us a frame of reference for where I should focus my attention. Now that it is a new year I am preparing new goals that I hope to achieve. Having these goals in mind creates a great way for me to “grade” myself throughout the year.

The transition from college to “real job” has been an interesting one for sure. Obviously I like the lack of grades, but also found that I needed some sort of frame of reference or goal to work towards. I appreciate that my manager will approach me when she has feedback. This gives me a better sense of my work, but at the end of the day it is on me. I always want to work hard enough to gain respect and keep moving forward. Many articles about millennials (which often frustrate me to no end!) say that we are used to receiving awards for simply participating or for basically no reason at all. I never put myself in that category, but when I realized I wasn’t receiving regular feedback at work I yearned for some type of reassurance. I’ve obviously learned that that is not the way most corporations work. I have always held myself to a high standard, and have translated that to my work life. Not receiving grades or regular feedback has definitely thrown me for a loop, but hasn’t diminished my work.

For those fellow post graduates out there trying to make sense of their place at their company, do not worry! The best way to help gauge your work is actually pretty easy! Start out by setting goals for yourself or speaking with your manager. Being on the same page from the get go will allow yourself to have a better idea of office expectations. No one is going to give you a gold star for showing up on time everyday, so instead find ways to ensure you stay on track with your manager’s expectations.

Unlike college, the real world does not hand out grades. Instead of constantly wondering where you fall on the spectrum, set goals and work towards them! And hey, if you get an amazing review…go out and celebrate! Instead of hanging up an A+ paper on the fridge, you might just get promoted and a raise! Not bad in my book!

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