Your career is a lot like an adventure. There are going to be times when things are slow and tedious, but there will also be major decision points that take you to new and unexpected places.
Like in every great adventure, whether it’s Harry Potter or The Lord of the Rings, the people you surround yourself will play an enormous role in how far you get and how successful you are along the way, so as seniors getting ready to graduate, you should ask yourself, who do I want to team up with to help me grow and take on this next stage of my life?
Here are 3 reasons why, as you graduate, you should look first for WHO you are working with, rather than where or for how much.
1. “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.”
This quote by Jim Rohn is powerful and true. There will be few people more influential in your life than your first boss and your first co-workers (each of whom you will spend 8 hours or more a day with). At your company you could have a boss like Gandalf, who entrusts Frodo with the ring of power, knowing that he has the ability to grow into this role, even if he doesn’t know it himself, or you could end up with a boss who is a micro-manager who always tells you explicitly what to do and never challenges you—cutting your growth off at the knees.
Outside of your boss, you will find that some co-workers give you honest feedback. I remember when my friend and co-founder told me that I needed to get better at selling my ideas internally and taking the time to map out new process changes. It hurt to discover that I was doing things the wrong way, but if I hadn’t heard this, I never would have improved. Well communicated feedback leads to growth acceleration and is infinitely more effective when coming from co-workers who you trust and respect.
2. Work should be challenging, but fun.
When Harry Potter is preparing for the Tri-Wizard Tournament, he, Hermione and Ron start putting in insane hours at the library. They are toiling hard, but their friendship makes it so that the hours are still enjoyable. Ultimately, their strength as a team allows them to come up with creative solutions.
The same thing will happen at your work. If you are working at a company you love, there will be days you put in long hours because you want to create the best end result. If you are surrounded by co-workers and friends you enjoy, these hours will be full of jokes, creative ideas and won’t truly feel like work, even as you make progress towards a great end result.
3. You will be empowered.
In the end, finding co-workers who understand and support you will make you more successful. I remember when my co-founder and I were trying to get a friend to quit a prestigious job, take a $50,000 pay cut and come join us, working out of a home office on a product that didn’t exist yet. We were just out college, inexperienced and had no right to ask someone to do this, but we believed in each other. We decided that with this person’s help, Looksharp would grow to be a fantastic platform and success. What might have felt uncomfortable otherwise clearly became the right choice–we made the job offer and our third co-founder, to our surprise, accepted and joined our team.
Over the course of a career, you will look back at a number of situations just like the one above, where you decided to do something different or risky, because you had the support of your colleagues, and that it made all the difference in where you ended up.
So what’s the point?
Pick a job based on the people. If you like your co-workers and boss at a particular company, be very cautious about leaving—these things are rare and more important than you might know.
Lastly, how do you know if a given company is right for you? It takes time to learn who your boss and co-workers might be. Some questions you can ask during an interview include:
Where have other people who have accepted jobs here gone on to work?
What skills will I learn while working here?
What is your management style?
Do co-workers spend time with one another outside of work?
Another way to go is to ask yourself if you were stuck at the airport with your team, are these people you’d enjoy getting a beer with or not? If not, will you truly enjoy working with them for the next 3+ years of your life?