8 Opportunities to Take Advantage of at Your First Job Out of College

So, you’ve finished college. Welcome to the real world! Your first job out of college is more than just a paycheck. It’s an opportunity for growth and stepping stones towards the future you’ve always dreamed of. Here are a few ways to make sure you’re getting the most out of your new job.

Be Smart with Your Paid-Time Off

Make sure you know the difference between your company’s sick leave, vacation, and paid-time-off policies so that you can get the most of your time away from the office. Even if you don’t get sick often, you can still take advantage of your sick days if you ever find yourself in a funk and just need a break. And while some companies let you roll your PTO over into the next year, others might not, so make sure you read the fine print before booking your next getaway.

Get Life Insurance

Take advantage of any life insurance your company offers. Funeral costs can really add up, so it’s best to be prepared. Plus, if you invest in life insurance early on, your investment can be used for other things. Some life insurance policies have cash value, which means you can use the money like a savings account in case you find yourself in need of an extra push on a rainy day.

Don’t Do it For the Money

Let’s face it: you’re probably not going to be raking in your dream salary when it comes to your first job after college. Instead of focusing on how much (or little) you’re making, look at your first post-college job as an opportunity to grow through new experiences. Find things to motivate you throughout the day that aren’t based on money. You’ll be more likely to open yourself up to opportunities that you may have otherwise turned down, which can help you open valuable professional doors down the line.

Health and Wellness

Health benefits can go beyond health insurance. Many companies offer perks such as gym memberships, counseling services, or discounts on services like massages. Doing what you can to balance both your physical and mental wellbeing is a simple way to get the most out of your job, while also taking care of yourself.

Network

Whether you’re just shy or like to play lone-wolf, it’s time to realize how vital building relationships can be. Every single person you meet will know something you don’t, and networking is the ultimate way to tap into that potential. Take the time to get to know people, and show genuine curiosity. Then take it one step further by branching out of who you would normally interact with to expand your network. Just remember that this is a two-way street, so remember to be authentic and don’t expect any favors.

Switch Up Your Commute

Save money and the planet by taking advantage of alternate commuter options. Some companies offer public transportation packages. Instead of driving, you can use the extra time to unwind or focus on the sights along the way or gather your thoughts before work. If that isn’t an option for you, consider looking into carpooling or ride-sharing. Carpooling can save you money and time. It’s also a great way to curb vehicle maintenance costs by prolonging the life of your car.

Employee Assistance Programs

Many companies offer programs that are designed to help employees in a crisis. These programs could range anywhere from substance abuse help, legal counsel referrals, or financial counseling. There are even some with help for things like daycare, veterinary services, and other personal or work-related problems.

Be Upfront

At the end of the day, one of the best things you can do is be upfront in the hiring process. Stay in touch with your human resources department, and let them know that you’re interested in benefits. They’ll appreciate the honesty, and be more than happy to do what they can to help you stay healthy.

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