Are you a millennial starting your first job in the big, beautiful world of software development, coding, or IT in general? Feeling daunted by the prospect? We thought so. If you ask your parents (or any adult for that matter) they probably don’t have great memories of their first jobs, with a lot of people literally hating them. Here are a few things you should know before starting out in the working world which will help you not hate your first job, and maybe even enjoy it a little too:
Work is not play
As Kate Lopaze of the The Job Network puts it, “Work kind of sucks. Sometimes work is great! But even in the happiest of times in the best-fitting jobs, there will be times when we hate it.” You need to be realistic and acknowledge that work is not play and that sometimes it’s going to be difficult in terms of work load, pressure, co-workers, managers etc. That’s just the way it is.
Learn to manage your time, quickly
Learning how to structure your work day and be as effective as possible is going to perhaps be the hardest part of your first job. A working career isn’t like university where you can chill for most of the year, cram right at the end, and still pass. Employers expect results daily and they expect that you’re mature enough to be able to deal with your workload effectively.
Colleagues – don’t beat ‘em, join ‘em
Next to sleep, your career will take up the largest part of your life. That means that as a working person you will spend more time with your colleagues than your family. Lopaze remarks that “any workplace is its own little community, with traditions, responsibilities, and a whole bunch of different personalities pushed together for many hours per week.” So, you better learn to get along with them pretty quickly. Psychologists recommend keeping your work and personal life separate, and not to get involved in office politics and gossip.
Learn as much as you can
Use every job as an opportunity to learn something new. Whether it be about your career, yourself, or what you want or don’t want. No experience or job is a learning opportunity lost. Even if you quit after three days, take it as you’ve learnt something about what you don’t want to do. Adil Khan of Career Thoughts says, “your first job may be a frustrating or joyful learning process. Whichever it is, learn as much as you can.”
Remember, you’re a small fish in a big pond
So, you’ve just stepped out of university or college with an A+ in C++ and you think you’re the bee’s knees. Confidence is a great asset to have, but you need to realise that building a good reputation takes time. Employers want you to prove what you can do something, before giving you the opportunity to do more. Kahn advises “show your capabilities, start by demonstrating your work ethic even at tasks that are menial and boring. A solid work ethic and eagerness will separate you from all the other viable candidates when it comes to bigger tasks, promotions, and raises.”