From your first 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. Simply because the first career 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!
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. For some reason, I always convinced myself that once I had a degree, all the learning and studying would finally end.
Little did I know that that was far from the truth. In fact, after I landed my first job after Uni, the learning continued. I spent lots of time reading career books and doing research in order to advance and succeed in my career. Truth is, in order to grow and develop not only in your career but also in life, you need to be open to continuously learn new things.
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, my first job experience taught me that 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. So how do you determine whether you have good people skills? Here are some of the questions you may want to ask yourself:
- Do I have the ability to relate to others?
- Do I have strong communication skills?
- Am I a great listener?
- Am I a great team player?
- Can people trust me with information?
Being open to working in different industries is important
Whether you’re about to start your career journey, or looking to change career paths; it’s important to keep an open mind towards working in different industries. Sometimes the career path you think you don’t want might be the career path you need in order to grow. You never know what career opportunities you may get working in an industry you’re not ‘initially’ interested in.
Company culture plays a huge factor in your happiness at work
Yes, you should be open to working in different industries. However, you are allowed to be picky when it comes to choosing your ideal (but realistic) work environment. Company culture is certainly an aspect that should not be overlooked as not every company will be the right fit for you. Always make sure you conduct thorough company research before you accept a job offer. Of course, it might be challenging finding everything about a certain company before you choose to work there, however, here are a few things you can look at for before and during the job search and interview stage.
- How does the management treat their employees?
- What do the company’s employees say about them?
- Do they offer learning and development opportunities?
- Will you get the chance to be creative 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.
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 in your job role, 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 at their workplace – And people who leave a mark can seldom be replaced.