Why your first job is still important

Learning

You'll change jobs numerous times during your career and some of them will be much more enjoyable than others. What's important is getting as much early exposure as possible so you start to understand what's important to you and more importantly what is not.

Journalist Tao Jie comments that you shouldn't change jobs too often because you'll learn as much from the negatives as you do from the positives over a longer period of time, which will benefit you more in the long when managing your career.

When Donald Trump was interviewed by Forbes magazine over his first job, helping his farther recycle bottles for money at his youth, he emphasized that the most exciting aspect was the challenges involved, and sense of accomplished that comes with overcoming them each day.

Madeleine Albright, the former Secretary of State landed her first job selling female underwear in a department store. Stating that she learned from that point it was important to always give 100% and the significance of being able to communicate with anyone, from any background.

While what you do for your career and first job may differ, your first job is an excellent opportunity to learn some fundamentals about the work place and what's required to be successful.

Working isn't always fun

It can take time to find your dream job so you shouldn't expect a fairytale scenario from the outset. A lot of jobs are dull and ordinary, filled with Xerox machines, document management and handling phone calls. The reality is that no one is actually obligated to make you happy within the workplace so it's important to learn to take responsibility for your own happiness.

Solving your own problems

Self-sufficiency and autonomy are fundamental competencies in any job and your first job is a good test bed to develop both. It can also be an insight into how willing colleagues are to help you and how much you can rely on their input and support. Your problem-solving skills will be tested throughout your career, the earlier you become independent, the better.

Communication is paramount

Arguably the most important ingredient to success in the workplace is your ability to build and maintain constructive relationships over time. The trust a positive relationship builds allows you to lean on colleagues for support and coverage in future. Adapting and improving your communications skills to build solid relationships with people from a multitude of backgrounds can take time, so it's better to start practicing immediately.

Find the right fit

Happy workers are productive and focused workers and the whilst pay is often cited as the most important factor when choosing a job, the cultural and environment are even more influential to your wellbeing at work. The more jobs you have, the better you'll start to understand the different cultures, be it formal, casual, driven, competitive or caring to name a few. Try to identify what the culture actually is in your first job and note whether it's something that suits you or not.

Fiona Wong

Freelance translator & writer, love arts, cinema, travel and flowers!

3 min read

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