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Your First Job: What You Should Expect

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A steep learning curve – from the work or the people

Unlike school, getting an “A” at your job doesn’t happen just because you work perfectly and earn the approval of your boss. Your boss is not your teacher, and you have your own career to build and work to perform. Not only will you have to learn to perform new tasks (“Help, I only used Excel for one semester!”) but also you will have to learn the finer points of interoffice communication. Expect a steep learning curve at your first job.It takes a minimum of three months to learn the ropes of a new job and usually a year to understand the rules of the game. Knowing this before you start your job will help you be more accepting of your adjustment process but will also help you keep your eyes open for whom to trust, how to get ahead, and how to earn more money at your job or with another company.

Exhaustion – you’re not used to the hours and demands of a job

Your workday will probably be anywhere from 8 to 20 hours depending on the nature of you first job. Whether you’re sitting at a desk all day or running around on a film set, you will most likely have fewer breaks than you’re used to and thus become more exhausted. I’m sure you pulled plenty of all-nighters in school where you felt exhausted afterwards. However, in your first job you can’t sleep until noon the next day to catch up on your rest.

The college schedule typically arranges your day in blocks of time, some of which are allocated to classes and others of which are allocated to study or extracurricular activities. The daily demands of most professions will keep you busy from 7 AM to 7 PM, making it hard to take a nap, catch up on errands, hit the gym, or take care of personal items. You will now only have a couple of hours in the evenings and the weekends to catch up on your sleep, run errands and do everything else your life requires. Start planning now a healthy routine for eating, sleeping, exercise and stress management so that you’re not overwhelmed after a month of 60+ hour work weeks.

Hurt feelings – try not to feel as much

Your feelings will get hurt at your new job. Unlike your previous life experiences with family and school, the people at your job don’t love you and/or are not paid to develop you. It’s not that your boss and co-workers don’t care about you, it’s just not their job to care about you (nor is it your job to care about them). Presumably you, your co-workers, and your boss are at work to create, sell, or run a product so that everyone makes money.If someone hurts your feelings, it’s most likely because they are putting first and foremost their job to create or sell a product. No one is trying to be mean to you intentionally – rather, caring about you is not a priority or requirement. Apart from abusive or harassing situations, try not to have an emotional reaction to your co-workers and boss – positive or negative. This only distracts from your personal productivity and ability to make you and your company money.

Uneven playing field – someone will be treated better than you

Expect that you will not be treated fairly at your job. Again, your job is not your school or family. They do not love you unconditionally and they are not paid for your development. This means that in your work environment, a peer may be treated with more respect and given more responsibility. An employee who comes from the same school or hometown or same socioeconomic background as your boss might be given preferential treatment. Deal with it. Get over it. Work hard. Get noticed and spend your time exploiting the assets you do have, such as your great personality or superior Excel skills. For the rest of your life whether it’s your job, charity involvement, or child’s school application process, you are no longer on an even playing field. The sooner you realize this, accept this, and figure out how to make your life work for you, you will advance in your own life the way you want.

Higher expenses at first – work clothes, shoes, travel, supplies, takeout meals, and don’t forget the gym

Unlike school, where you might have had a meal plan and monthly allowance (whether from your parents or student loans), there is no room and board plan in the real world. Work itself is expensive – new clothes (work attire for 20 days a month x 4 seasons a year), work shoes (perhaps a pair for walking and a pair for the office), meals everyday (unless you pack your lunch every night, eating out can be as much as $15 per lunch or about $3,900 a year), not to mention the expenses of your apartment, travel, recreation, grabbing drinks after work, etc. So, even though you are thrilled to FINALLY be getting a paycheck, your expenses (oh and don’t forget the monthly gym cost) will probably be as much or more than your paycheck. This is the first step to realizing why you have the job in the first place – to pay for things – and to get together your plan of action for making more money!

Photo courtesy of Career Racketeer.


#First Job #Sleep #Getting The Job Finance #Balance Career Advice
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Jessica Cross
Jessica Cross

All of this is so true ... unfortunately. I've definitely experienced it all (and still am) in the 8th month of my first full-time job. Would have been nice to know before I started!


I understand completely what you mean. You are an adult and, at times, have to deal with things you may not be too fond of. The only thing is I don't personally agree with the hurt feelings section. Yes, not everyone is going to like you, but they should respect you. If you give them the respect then you should expect to receive it back. Is it always going to happen? Of course not. That's just the way the world works.But if you're a person who values friendship and want to live in an atmosphere that is at least remotely friendly, then you have the right to have that. Just because it's your first job, doesn't mean that you have to completely settle. Also, a company is nothing without its employees. If everyone is content with each other and their environment, they're going to work harder because they value where they work. If not then, they are going to start caring less, little by little, about what is happening to the company. I've seen it countless times. Happy employees means happy clients and a very happy CEO/President.

Geeeeez. Where was this list when I started working? This would have saved me from a lot of stupid moments.

This is WONDerful - I love it. It's very true and very real.

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