1. You don’t know everything there is to know yet, and that’s okay.
Your first real job is often a good indicator of where you slacked during the act of studying for your degree, but even if you were a straight A student and graduated with a perfect 4.0, it’s impossible for you to know everything about your chosen field. You might feel like you’re being taken down a peg when you realize there’s a lot you need to learn on your first day on the job, but don’t let it shake your confidence.
Realize that it doesn’t mean college is a lie or that you wasted your money on a worthless degree, but rather that there is only so much you can learn in a classroom for four years. So much of your learning begins after you graduate, when you’re actually on the job and doing hands-on work. It’s okay for you to not know everything, so don’t panic.
2. Whether or not the typical 9-5 schedule is really for you.
Let’s face it, most first real jobs involve sitting behind a desk for eight hours a day and that doesn’t have to be a bad thing. Many times, if you find that you love the work you’re doing, it won’t matter where you’re doing it, as long as you’re passionate and engaged with what’s in front of you.
But working in a cubicle and solely communicating with coworkers through email even though they’re sitting five feet behind you isn’t for everyone. So if the 9-5 grind isn’t for you, that’s okay. There are always other options and places that your career can take you that don’t involve the typical schedule, but at least give it a chance before you decide to go down a more unusual route. Life is about going against your comfort zone and testing the waters in situations that may at first seem strange and uncomfortably unknown.
3. How to deal with different personalities on a daily basis.
If there’s one thing your first job will definitely teach you, it’s how to deal with a mix of different personalities. You’ll have to learn to navigate the waters of interoffice politics, which is uncharted territory for most newbies in the workforce. You’ll learn to separate yourself from the office drama and how to focus on the important thing, that being the job the you were hired to do.
You’ll come to find that some of your coworkers are difficult, while others will take you under their wing and help guide you. You’ll make friends who will be with you for life, as well as learnt the ego-bruising lesson that some people just won’t like you, no matter how nice you are.
But don’t let it bring you down. Realize that while sometimes personalities just don’t mesh, it’s always of the utmost importance to remain mature and professional.
4. Patience is an art in terms of getting where you want to be.
Many of us have high hopes of our first position being “the dream job.” Some of us get lucky and land it on the first try, but the more common reality is that we need to learn a lesson in patience in getting where we want to be in terms of our career.
You’ll also truly come to realize the importance of hard work and perseverance, since big career changes don’t happen over night.
Waiting for this to happen can be frustrating at times, but know that learning and practicing the important skill of patience will help you not just in terms of your career, but in other areas of your life as well.
5. If this is really what you want to do with your life.
Probably the most important thing your first “real world” job will teach you is how you truly feel about finally landing a position in your field of choice. It’s one thing to study a subject in college, but totally another to work within the field, to be up close and personal with your work day in and day out. It’s going to test your passion, your drive and your fervor for your chosen career.
This can seem scary, the fact that the one thing you’ve always though you would love doing may not wind up meshing with who you are as a person or vibing with your personality. The important thing to remember is that your first job is not your grave, but an opportunity to discover if this is really what you want. It gives you the chance to get a feel for your industry and whether this is truly what you want to spend the rest of your life doing.