Critical Career Advice: Don’t Skip the Entry-level Job

First_JobI know, I know…

Many of you soon-to-be college graduates are just starting your job search, and you’re probably looking at mid-level management positions on LinkedIn with visions of cool-sounding titles – and big paychecks – dancing in your head.

This is totally normal… I had the same “first job” fantasies myself. But what I got was even better: a series of entry-level jobs.

Don’t roll your eyes just yet.

Entry-level jobs sound rote, tedious, and not what you just worked four long years to get. But the truth is, entry-level jobs are something you don’t want to miss. I gained some of my most valuable experience in my first jobs, and wouldn’t be where I am today without them. Here’s why:

You Need Time to Acclimate

Here’s something no one tells you about graduating from college: acclimating to the working world is hard.

I’m not saying being a college student is easy. But going from a somewhat flexible schedule that you can adjust as needed to a 9-to-5, 50+ hour per week job that requires a daily commute, a new professional wardrobe (and a much earlier bedtime) is a big change. The great thing about entry-level jobs is they give you the space to make this adjustment, without the added pressure or responsibility of being a manager.

Moving up the ladder comes with its own challenges and adjustments, so why not take each life change as they come?

You Need to Understand the Basics

Contrary to popular belief, entry-level jobs aren’t just a mind-numbing series of menial tasks. They are an opportunity to learn your industry, and the many moving pieces that contribute to it, from the ground up. Trying on a variety of entry-level jobs during your first few years in the work force will give you lots of opportunity to learn… while making you a better boss down the road.

Let me give you an example: I waited tables all throughout high school and college. During that time, my restaurant hired several managers who had studied food and beverage management in college, but who hadn’t actually done the work of cleaning a grease trap, mixing a cocktail, or working an expo line. I, along with the other servers, often watched these managers undergo a radical change during their first month working in a real restaurant environment.

The more experience they got under their belt, the better managers they became (and the more we enjoyed working with them). In other words, know that all the college in the world can’t prepare you entirely for whatever career you choose, and the best place to learn the basics is at the bottom.

You Need a Place to Screw Up

You’re going to make mistakes in your first job. We all do. And it’s a lot better to make mistakes when you’re in an entry-level position, and have plenty of people looking over your shoulder, than when you’re in a management position and can do a lot more damage.

Enough said.

You May Just Figure Out What You Really Want

One of the many underrated silver linings to an entry-level job is that you’re not necessarily tracked into one particular industry niche yet.

This means you have the opportunity to try varied assignments, volunteer for new projects, ask tons of questions and, most importantly, switch to a new position if this one isn’t a good fit. Once you move into more senior-level positions, finding that kind of flexibility is difficult, so make the most of it while it lasts.

An entry-level job doesn’t have to be the dead-end waste of time it’s often painted out to be. If you approach it with the right attitude, you may even find it exciting, engaging, and the perfect base on which to build the rest of your career.

How do you feel about entry-level positions… now? Let us know in the comments below.





For this post, YouTern thanks our friends at myFootpath!



NoelAbout the Author: Noël Rozny is Web Editor & Content Manager at myFootpath, a career and education resource for students of all ages. Noël writes and edits the career and education blog, myPathfinder, and is passionate about using these technologies to help students and job seekers alike find the degree program or career that is right for them. Visit to find the bachelor’s degree, master’s degree or PhD program that’s right for you. Connect with Noel on Twitter!


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