5 Crucial Things My First Job Experience Taught Me

skills university

Image credit: Esther Santer

Your first job experience can be exciting but challenging at times. Not only are you working in a completely new environment, you’re also learning to get used to a work-life balance.

You will celebrate many milestones. However, hard work and sweat are most likely not exempted from this. Your first job experience will teach you many career lessons and give you a great head start for the rest of your career.

Here are 5 crucial things my first job experience taught me:

You don’t stop learning because you have a degree

Life, in general, is a never ending learning process. Whether you’re learning by gaining theoretical knowledge or practical experience; the process does not end when you have a degree. Reality soon hit me with my first office job as a Marketing Coordinator. For some reason, I was always convinced that once you had a degree, you had made it.

Little did I know that that was far from the truth because after I landed that job the learning continued… I found myself constantly pulling out books and doing research so that I could advance and perform better in my new career. Truth is, whether it’s your personal or professional life, you must continually learn new things in order to grow and develop. If you stop learning, there’s a problem!

People skills are just as important as hard work

Often we are told that hard work pays off. And in order to be successful in life and in your career, you need to work hard. I absolutely agree on that! However, hard work alone is not enough. It is said ‘your attitude determines your altitude’ – Hard work will get you started, but your character determines how far you go.

In order to succeed at work or in your career, you’ll need to develop strong people skills. What does that mean? Here are some examples:
– Do you have the ability to relate to others?
– Do you have strong communication skills?
– Are you a great listener?
– Are you a great team-player?
– Can people trust you with information?
– Do you have the ability to keep an open mind?
Just to name a few.

Being open to working in different industries is important

Whether you’re about to start your career journey, or looking to change career path; it’s important to have an open mind towards different career opportunities. I’ve learned that sometimes the career path you think you don’t want, might be the career path you need in order to grow. My first job experience was in the refrigeration industry. And today, I never dreamed that I would be working in the HR and recruitment industry. Little did I know I had a passion for writing about career growth and development. However, today my current career in the recruitment industry has been part of the inspiration behind IAMI.

Company culture plays a huge factor in your happiness at work

Yes, I know I said you should be open to working in different industries. However, you are allowed to be picky in choosing your ideal (but realistic) work environment. Not every company will be the right fit for you. Always make sure you conduct thorough company research. Find out everything you can about the potential company you’ll be working for.

For example, how do they treat their employees? What do their employees say about them? And do they offer a great learning and growth environment? Do you consider yourself to be creative? Will you get the chance to freely express your creativity in such a company?

It seems like minor issues. However, you’ll be surprised that those exact issues can make a huge difference in your happiness at work.

Don’t strive to be just a good worker, strive to be the most valuable.

Anyone can work hard, but there are just a few people who leave a mark at their workplace.

Once again this stresses the point why you should never stop learning. Because as time goes by, you will encounter individuals who are more educated, advanced or experienced than you are. However, you can stay/be a valuable worker if you learn new things, do new things and remain an innovative individual at your job. Anyone can work hard, but there are just a few people who leave a mark at their workplace.

Sarah Johnson

Sarah is Founder and Editor of IAMICareer. She currently holds a BA of Commerce and has a strong background in Marketing. Sarah is passionate about seeing millennials thrive in career and the workplace and is dedicated to helping millennial women bridge the gap between university and the corporate world.