Universities are meant to prepare us for the real world -except they don’t teach us any crash courses in what really happens once we get our first jobs. If college is where we’re supposed to learn all the lessons for our first job, we must have missed the course on “First Day of Work Outfits” and “Who Refills the Office Coffee.”
So, what can you really expect at your first job? Here are a few important life lessons you can learn from your first real world work experience.
Don’t Be Afraid of Trying Something New
“If it scares you, it might be a good thing to try.” – Seth Godin
As much as we all hate to admit it – we don’t know everything. Even if we think that we wouldn’t like something new, you never really know until you try it. New experiences and unexpected opportunities, though they may not seem like a great fit at first, are great ways to learn about your business and future career. Who knows? By trying something unfamiliar, maybe you’ll fall in love with a new career path you wouldn’t have thought of otherwise.
Don’t Be Hard on Yourself
“Make sure your worst enemy doesn’t live between your two ears.” – Laird Hamilton
Having your first job can be scary. You’re surrounded by new people in a new environment, doing new things, so feeling overwhelmed is totally natural. However, it’s important to stay positive when the going gets tough. Internalized negativity will only bog you down further, and it’s okay if you need to take a break to remind yourself that there are more important things than work. It’s your first job! Give yourself a break. You’re just getting started in life and learning.
Create Your Own Luck
“Opportunities don’t happen, you create them.” – Chris Grosser
In the workplace, it is very, very rare for a chance at something amazing to simply fall into your lap. Instead of waiting for a fairy godmother or your dream job to cross your path, speak up, reach out, and don’t be afraid to go after what you want. If you’re interested in working with a specific team, ask if there are any side projects you can help with. If there’s a manager at your company you hope to emulate, offer to buy them a cup of coffee and ask them for advice. Learning how to be proactive in your first job will take you places during the rest of your career.
“If passion drives you, let reason hold the reins.” – Benjamin Franklin
Being proactive (like we said above) is great, but remember to think before taking action. Ask yourself if you’re able to follow through with a project before you volunteer for it, or if you’re able to commit to coming in earlier every day before you ask to shadow somebody. Passion and eagerness to grow are great, but don’t be blinded by your excitement. Before making decisions at work, think your actions – and potential results – through.
“A career is wonderful, but you can’t curl up with it on a cold night.” – Marilyn Monroe
At the end of the day, you are more than your job title. Work can be engrossing, but remember to take the time for family, friends, and – most importantly – yourself. Set expectations for how much time and energy you’re going to devote to your job and adhere to them. The best part about starting your first job is that you get to set the expectations for your life moving forward – so make sure you prioritize everything that is important to you.
“Treat yourself like a boss.” – Nicki Minaj
Because you’re worth it. Your first job can be tough, so be prepared for plenty of self pep-talks. Most of all, stay confident in yourself -even if you make a mistake. Like we said before, no one knows everything, and you will continue to grow and learn as you gain experience. Life -not just your first job- requires that you be your biggest fan.