During my usual forays around the internet, I stumbled onto two pieces I felt offered great realistic advice for new graduates.
“8. Don’t model your life after a circus animal. Performing animals do tricks because their trainers throw them peanuts or small fish for doing so. You should aspire to do better. You will be a friend, a parent, a coach, an employee—and so on. But only in your job will you be explicitly evaluated and rewarded for your performance. Don’t let your life decisions be distorted by the fact that your boss is the only one tossing you peanuts. If you leave a work task undone in order to meet a friend for dinner, then you are "shirking" your work. But it’s also true that if you cancel dinner to finish your work, then you are shirking your friendship. That’s just not how we usually think of it.”
Letters to a Young Engineer: How to Decide Where to Work (written by a friend of mine, who is eminently qualified so these words have weight!)
“This is the first branch in the decision tree. If the answer is that you’re not happy about going into work, you need to scratch that company off the list. It’s a non-starter. I don’t care if the company is super-popular or has 10 Nobel Prize winners that you revere. If you’re not excited, you’re not going to do your best work. Then those 10 Nobel Prize winners will see you as a non-phenomenal colleague, and that’s the reputation which will spread about you.”