15 Things No One Tells You About Your First Job


We all have to start our career path somewhere, yet we find that some of the pretty basic things that transfer across mostjobs (first and otherwise) just don’t get talked about. If we’d knownsome of these things up front, we probably would have been more prepared for our first jobs—so we’re passing them on to you. Whether you’re just starting out or you’ve got years under your belt, here 15 great piecesof knowledge to speed up the learning process. 

Things No One Tells You About Your First Job

1. They don’t tell you how hard you need to work

No matter what you’re doing. It’s hard! Everything is new andmystifying. Coworkers might not start out so sure about you. Everyoneknows each other already. You don’t know how to balance your workload at first. But if you try hard, and don’t shy away from hard work, it willshow.

2. it’s about learning and absorbing as much information as you can

It’s not just about learning your own role. To really succeed in your company or career path, you should understand other people’s roles in the company, too. If you understand how the salesdepartment functions and the kinds of things they need to know, it willmake you a better receptionist. If you know what accounting is facing,you can give them a better product and make their jobs easier. They’llremember that.

3. It’s more about experience than a paycheck

If you have a chance to work closely with owners or visionaries atminimum wage, do it! The experience is worth far more than any paycheck. If you take jobs based entirely on the money you’re promised, you mayend up working for a cubicle factory that eats souls for breakfast. Take the opportunity to work with people who want to teach you.

Get used to saying “I made a mistake, and this is how I fixed it” or “I goofed, and I need help fixing it.”

4. it’s usually grunt work

Find passion in it anyway. Find the little things you like and do them very, very well.

5. Listen first, then ask questions

There’s nothing wrong with asking questions. It means you’re paying attention, you’re thinking about what you’re learning, and you’rewilling to dig deeper. But also pay attention to when and how you askthem. Try: “I have some questions about this topic. Is there aconvenient time when you’d be willing to answer them?”

6. It’s going to suck now and then (no matter what you’re doing)

You’re going to have hard days. It’s okay. It’s normal. It’s aboutwhat you do with the day after a hard day that will define you.

7. First impressions count—but they aren’t death sentences

If you start out on the wrong foot, especially with a coworker or superior, it doesn’t mean you won’t ever get along. Remember, we’re all human beings, and there’s always something underthe surface that we don’t know about. Bring kindness, an alert attitude, and that hard work ethic with you, and you may find that you get alongafter all.

8. The language you use matters

Yes, actually. If you’re not great at spelling, at least use spellcheck. The worst part about typos and errors in spelling and grammarisn’t that there was a mistake. It’s that these kinds of errors make the offender look both lazy and like they lack attention to detail. Takesome time to make sure that your work is error-free.

9. Attitude is important

Be alert, be polite, and don’t act as if anyone owes you something. If it’s a stretch, at least act interested.

10. Learn how to say “no”

It can take some time to find your own graceful way of saying no, but it’s well worth the effort. If you have the kind of boss thatthrows anything and everything your way because either they a) think you don’t have enough to do or b) like the work you do so they trust youwith more, you will find yourself overworked, off-topic, and unable tofinish everything. If this happens, politely say “I have these threethings on my plate with the same deadline, and I won’t be able tocomplete all three. Which one is the most important to have done by thedeadline?”

11. Take ownership of your failures (even if your failures are small)

Get used to saying “I made a mistake, and this is how I fixed it” or “I goofed, and I need help fixing it.”It builds priceless trust, shows your confidence, and leads to a betterwork environment overall.

12. There is way more transferrable experience from one type of job to another than we give credit for

What you learn working in a fast food restaurant may not seem like it has much in common with working in an office, butactually? Much of business in any industry is interpersonalcommunication. Those skills definitely transfer.

13. Build your value

If you want to keep your job and move up in a company, you’ve gotto demonstrate value. Anyone can push papers around. What’s especiallyvaluable about how you do it? How can you make what you do more valuable?


And “not slacking” isn’t just “doing your job” as the jobdescription is written. It’s part of your job to understand thecompany’s mission, values, goals, and operations.

15. Sometimes it’s hard to keep showing up

Do it anyway. The reward is worth the sacrifice.

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