From your fist manager to your first favourite colleague, your first work mistake and your very first career success – Your first job experience often turns out to be the most memorable one because the lessons you learn mostly shape and equip you for the rest of your career journey.
Yet, sometimes when you’ve come a long way in your career, it’s easy to underestimate some of the valuable lessons you learned during your first job experience. Here are five crucial things my first job experience taught me, which I’m still applying to my career today!
1. You don’t stop learning because you have a degree
Life is a never-ending learning process. Whether you’re learning by gaining theoretical knowledge or practical experience; the process does not end when you have a degree. Reality hit me with my first job experience as a Marketing Coordinator. For some reason, I was always convinced that once you had a degree, you had made it.
Little did I know that that was far from the truth because after I landed what I thought was my ‘dream job’, the learning continued… After work, I would found myself constantly pulling out books and doing research so that I could advance and do better in my new career. Truth is, in order to grow and develop yourself, you need to make a conscious decision to continuously learn new things.
2. People skills are just as important as hard work
Often we are told that hard work pays off. And in order to be successful in life and in your career, you need to work hard. I absolutely agree with that! However, hard work alone is not enough. Your attitude determines your altitude – Hard work will get you started, but your character determines how far you go.
In order to succeed at work and in your career, you’ll need to develop strong people skills. What does that mean?
Here are some examples/questions that will help you determine:
- Do you have the ability to relate to others?
- Do you have strong communication skills?
- Are you a great listener?
- Are you a great team player?
- Can people trust you with information?
- Do you have the ability to keep an open mind?
3. Being open to working in different industries is important
Whether you’re about to start your career journey, or looking to change career path; it’s important to have an open mind towards different career opportunities. I’ve learned that sometimes the career path you think you don’t want, might be the career path you need in order to grow. My first job experience was in the refrigeration industry. After that, I got into the HR & Recruitment industry which I absolutely loved. Working within that industry gave me the passion and confidence to document my career journey and seek career growth.
4. Company culture plays a huge factor in your happiness at work
Yes, I know I said you should be open to working in different industries. However, you are allowed to be picky in choosing your ideal (but realistic) work environment. Not every company will be the right fit for you. Always make sure you conduct thorough company research. Find out everything you can about the potential company you’ll be working for.
- How do they treat their employees?
- What do their employees say about them?
- Do they offer learning and development opportunities?
- Will you get the chance to freely express your creativity in such a company?
It seems very minor, however, you’ll be surprised that those exact things can make a huge difference in your happiness at work.
5. Don’t strive to be just a good employee, strive to be the most valuable.
Once again, this stresses the point of ‘why you should never stop learning’. Because as time goes by, you will encounter individuals who are more educated, advanced or experienced than you are. However, you can remain a valuable employee if you learn new things, do new things and remain innovative at your job. Anyone can work hard, but there are just a few people who leave a mark (which can’t be replaced) at their workplace.