Here's What To Expect In Your First Post-College Job

Here's What To Expect In Your First Post-College Job
by Lauren McGoodwin
Photos Joe Kathrina | August 28, 2014

“Okay. I’m about to start my first full-time job after college. I’m probably overthinking this, but my start date is quickly approaching, and I’m getting more and more nervous! Do you have any tips?”

- Morgan, Arlington, TX


After you graduate, one of the most frequently asked questions you get is “what are you going to do now?” Lucky for me, I had landed a job about 5 days prior to walking across the stage, so I confidently replied and pretty much tuned out any advice given to me about adjusting to work life.

That was a mistake. The transition to full-time work is not to be taken lightly! Here are 5 things I wish I had known before I started my first job:

1. THE COMPANY MATTERS AS MUCH AS THE JOB TITLE.

When I was job searching, I did just that: I focused on the job. In hindsight, I should have focused on the company, their mission, their products and their culture. Putting in 40 hours a week will be much more enjoyable if you’re contributing to a company and mission you connect with, so take the time to really research the company and identify parts of their mission that resonate with you.

2. IT'S OK TO WING IT.

Inevitably you will be asked to do a task that you a) have never done before and b) have no idea where to start. It’s okay to make it up as you go, because that’s exactly how you learn.

3. MUNDANE TASKS MATTER.

Making copies, organizing files and listening to voicemails matter. Your first job will probably require more mundane tasks than you would like, but those tasks provide a lot of value and therefore, you provide a lot of value to your organization.

4. ADJUSTING TO YOUR NEW SCHEDULE TAKES TIME. 

As a student, your schedule was relatively flexible and you could adjust it to make time for other priorities such as a part-time job, exercise, etc. In the working world your schedule is pretty much decided for you with set working hours, a time-off policy and sometimes the unfortunate necessity to skip that happy hour with friends in order to finish an assignment. This is where time management skills will be critical, and remember that just because you can work from anywhere doesn’t mean that you should. Set aside time to turn off from work and take care of life stuff.

5. IT'S OK TO LOOK FOR A NEW JOB.

Unless you win the first-job lottery, you’ll probably be ready to look for a new gig after about a year. Most entry-level jobs are stepping stones toward bigger and better things. Network with people in your industry and take note of other companies you’d want to work for in order to make your next move a purposeful one and a good fit for your overall career goals.