7 Things to Know When You Get Your First Job

The working world is very different from the student life!

If you are a recent graduate getting ready to start a new job, congratulations! Starting out in your new career is an exciting time of life. If you’ve never worked a full-time career-oriented job, there may be a few things that surprise you. Take a look at some of the changes you may not have expected.

Say goodbye to summer break
If you have been a student for most of your life, you are accustomed to having your summers off, plus a week off before the new year and a week off in the spring. Once you enter the working world, this isn’t true anymore. In a typical entry-level professional job, the employer may offer you 10 days of paid vacation, plus roughly 6 paid holidays and some personal/sick time. But don’t worry! As you gain more seniority over the years, you will probably earn extra vacation time.

You’ll have a new schedule
When you are in college or career school, you might have some flexibility in your schedule. For example, your classes might meet in the morning or the evening and you might use your afternoons to stop by a library or a coffee shop to do your studying. Once you start a job, your schedule will be more fixed in place. This may take a little getting used to, but on the bright side…no more homework!

You will have more personal accountability
When you were a student, you could make mistakes, and usually the worst outcome was a poor grade on your report card. In the world of work, your mistakes might have larger consequences because they can affect the people on your team or your customers. For this reason, it’s important to take your work seriously. Once you get used to having this kind of responsibility, it can lead to greater job satisfaction, knowing that your work is helping others.

Professionalism is key
In your new job, the work you do will be representing your employer. So you will want to behave in a professional manner that reflects well on the employer. Complaining and being negative can send the wrong message. This even includes showing maturity during your off-duty hours. In other words, don’t be one of those people who vents your work frustrations in your social media feed! Instead, work on a building a professional reputation that you can be proud of for years to come.

Your boss knows more than you think
Many times, when people come out of college or career training schools, they are eager to use their new skills and might have an overconfident view of how much they know. They might walk into a new job and think they know more than their supervisors. This isn’t a great strategy for success. It is better to hang back and get the lay of the land before speaking up. Ask thoughtful questions. Listen more than you talk. Inquire from your fellow coworkers about their perspectives. It’s true that you might have some great ideas, but make sure you have a firm understanding of the big picture before you go shaking things up.

Teamwork is important
As a student, you may have done some team projects, but for the most part, your performance and grades mostly depended on you alone. In many jobs, however, you will be expected to work as part of a team every day. To succeed on a team, you should do your best to contribute to the team’s goals and learn to work cooperatively with other members of the team. As you progress, be sure to ask for feedback from your supervisor on how you are doing, and find out what you could be doing better.

Patience will help you in the long run
Entry-level jobs are called entry-level for a reason. You may sometimes feel like you are at the bottom of the totem pole and that you would rather be doing more interesting work. Instead of getting frustrated by this, look at it as an opportunity to learn as much as you can. Aim to do the best you can in all of your current responsibilities. Identify areas for improvement, and focus on those. The better you perform in your entry-level job, the more likely you are to get a higher position in the future.

If these changes sound daunting, try not to worry. It won’t take long for you to get into the swing of having a professional job. Before you know it, you will have a sense of pride in your work and you will enjoy knowing that you are contributing to your workplace and the greater community. Good luck!