How To Make The Most Of Your First Real Job

It’s a big step in anyone’s post-graduate career, landing that first “real job.” After years of classes, exams, papers and internships, you’ll finally be fending for yourself and working to shape the rest of your working career. After the excitement wears off from accepting your job offer, you’ll begin to wonder what this job will actually be like and how you should act in a way to best start off your new path in the working world on the right foot.

Here’s what you can look forward to, good and bad, in joining the real world as a working professional and a few tips to help make sure you’re not on the job search in a few short months.

Paperwork And Training Sessions

When coming to work on the very first day of your job, you are excited to jump right in and start working, but first you have to get acclimated with the company and get all of those fun things like benefits and taxes figured out.

You’ll likely have some sort of orientation alongside the other new hires and some other training sessions in your particular area of work. Although you want to jump right in, remember that you need to have a solid grounding in the way the company operates before you can carry out your job at the highest level.

It may be a bit overwhelming and boring at times, but pay attention and attack these initial days in the workplace with a positive attitude and open mind to set yourself up for success.

Down Time

When starting a new job, there will likely be tasks for you to start on immediately, but you won’t be given complete responsibility over your entire role right away. You will likely encounter some down time in the first few weeks until you gradually take over all of the duties associated with your position, but don’t be shocked as this is normal.

Take this time to get used to the company. Meet as many people as you can, research your company and the industry. Learn the layout of the office. You’ll think some of these things are pointless until you have a question about billing, find yourself in an elevator conversation with a high-ranking executive or need to figure out where and how to scan those financial documents you filled out on the first day.

More Money

Likely the best part about getting your first real job is receiving that first paycheck. After likely only holding part-time jobs or internships until that point, it will possibly be the most money you’ve ever seen on a check with your name on it.

It can be tempting to buy new things, but be prepared that you may encounter new living expenses now that you are working. These could be things like rent, commuting costs and simply eating out for lunch. This will especially be true if you move to a new city for your job or if your parents have helped support you in the past. Don’t forget about those student loan payments!

Personalities And Work Styles

This one is a bit of a given, but you need to be prepared to work with all kinds of people. Some you will like, some you will hate and some you won’t even know exist until you’ve been on the job for a year. As a new worker, learning to adapt to different peer and management work styles is probably one of the biggest challenges.

The company as a whole may like things done a certain way, while your manager may expect it done in an entirely different way. The same can be said about the co-workers at a similar level as yourself. Some may complete tasks by the book, while others may take a different approach to reach the end goal.

Learn to understand how people operate by listening to their feedback and by paying attention to clues they give off through their behavior. Don’t be that millennial hot shot who comes in and tries to run the show with only a sliver of actual on-the-job experience. You eventually need to find a happy medium of completing all of your tasks while satisfying your managers, peers and clients (if you have them).

After a few weeks on the job, you will begin to get the hang of it and hopefully make some friends and a solid network of mentors along the way. Starting your first job can be both exciting and terrifying at the same time, but remember, even the CEO of the biggest companies in the world had a first day of work at some point and they seem to be doing alright.


Brock Thatcher is a communications professional in New York, specializing in broadcast and digital media relations and marketing. He has worked with many industry-leading brands in the sports, spirits and technology sectors. When he's not working with media, you can find him on Twitter sharing pointless facts and opinions about sports.

Twitter: @BrockThatcher