May 14, 2013
Things I wish I'd known before my first job
New college grad? Congratulations! Now it's time to find a job and begin your career. Feeling nervous? Don't worry -- starting a new job often strikes fear into the heart of even the strongest person.
As one of my clients said, "It's like the adult version of your first day of school. In most cases, you don't know anyone, you're not sure if the other 'kids' will play nice or be mean to you, you don't know the layout of the new workplace or even where to find the bathroom, and you're not sure if you'll fit in."
One way to ensure success in a new job is to learn from others. Soon after my college graduation, I asked a family friend what she wished she'd have known before starting her first job.
"I wish someone would have told me to always deliver on my commitments and to never make a commitment I can't keep," she replied. It was great advice that stayed with me throughout my career.
May kicks off graduation season, so I reached out on social media and asked others to share the best piece of wisdom they gained from their first job. Here's what people said:
College was just the beginning. "What you learned in college is just the tip of the iceberg! True learning happens when you embrace what you don't know and are now really ready to learn." -- Cindy R.
Learn to sell yourself. "Sell yourself ... it's not always the best resume that gets the job." -- Stacey O.
Act professionally and be wary of office politics. "When you start a job, be professional and friendly but keep your own counsel. Don't voice your opinions, jump right into friendships or tell everyone all about your personal business. Office politics can make or break a career." -- Roxie H.
Observe others. "Learn from others' mistakes so you won't repeat them." -- Deborah D.
Don't be afraid of mistakes. "Don't be afraid to make mistakes, except dropping the ball. Never drop the ball." -- Chris M.
Seek out mentors. "Find someone currently in the role you want to be in ... Ask them what their story is." -- Bright.com
Remain calm. "They can't get your goat if they don't know where it's tied up." -- Stacie C.
Be a standout. "Going above and beyond and [doing] what's right for your customer (internal or external) pays off." -- Jennifer L.
What advice do you have for college graduates? Share it in the "Comments" section.
Karen Burns is the author of The Amazing Adventures of Working Girl, a career guide based on her 59 jobs over 40 years in 22 cities.
Kristen Fife is a senior recruiter, career mentor, blogger and resume consultant based in the Seattle area.
Lisa Quast is a certified career coach, mentor, business consultant, former corporate executive and author based in the Seattle area.
Randy Woods writes about job-search tools, networking techniques and other tips to help you land your dream job.
Matt Youngquist is the president of Career Horizons, a career counseling firm.
Natalie Singer is a Seattle writer, editor and small-business owner.
Michelle Goodman is the author of "My So-Called Freelance Life" and "The Anti 9-to-5 Guide."
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