Here’s What I Wish I Knew Before Starting My First Job

Wish I KnewIn 2010, like many of you, commencement had come and gone. I had worked my butt off through the summer and landed what felt like a dream job at a top digital marketing agency.

I quickly learned, however, my expectations were very different from the reality I stepped into. So, I wanted to share five career-critical things I wish I had known before I started working:

You Learn on the Job

Your first taste of working can be overwhelming. I remember crying after my first day thinking I was in over my head and that somehow I had fooled my team into thinking I could do this job I knew nothing about. Lesson one: as a new grad, you are rarely expected to know how to do your job.

Every company is different with different processes. The skills needed for the job are learned on the job. What you are expected to do is be a sponge. Listen attentively and write everything down so you pick up tasks and processes as quickly as possible.

Criticism Will Hurt

Everyone makes mistakes. You make more mistakes when you don’t ask questions. Ask questions and remember the answers. When you make mistakes—which you will—you may receive (sometimes) harsh criticism from your superior.

Not taking criticism personally is extremely difficult for most people. Hence preparing and understanding that it might bruise your ego, but should not affect your confidence to do better and succeed, is important.

Change Happens Often and Quickly

You have been attending school for over a decade. It’s a pretty similar process year over year. While working 9 to 6 is regimented in its own capacity, your work environment often will change. Managers leave or change groups, process may not exist, and deadlines appear out of nowhere. Expect uncertainty and ask for guidance when things become confusing. Stay aware, positive, organized, and learn how to prioritize.

Furthermore, when you feel overwhelmed, speak up. You are your biggest advocate!

Data is Important

As technology becomes a larger part of our lives, even the most creative fields have a level of analytics to it. While there are great advantages to macro-level thinking, it does not detract from intricate details. Familiarize yourself with Excel and research tools like Google Analytics. Even if your job does not call for it immediately, you never know when it might. Feeling comfortable with big sets of numbers and data will only be beneficial.

Money isn’t the End All Be All

Don’t pursue a job for the money if you absolutely hate it. This is the time to chase a career you are interested in. Likely you are single and without children. Your financial obligations are to take care of yourself, pay off school, remain out of debt, and start to save. If you are passionate about your job, you’ll work hard. Promotions or job hops will happen and eventually more money will follow.

That is what I wish I had known before starting my first job. What would you add?



For this post, YouTern thanks our friends at Levo League!



DivyaAbout the Author: Divya Bahl is a freelance writer and media strategist in New York City. Originally from the Pacific NW, she is a graduate of Boston University’s College of Communication. Divya has blogged and written for CosmoGIRL, Seventeen and Microsoft among others and spends her time outside of the office traveling, writing, reading, and working out. Follow Divya on Twitter!


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