What my first job has taught me
I waited for a job for so long. In high school, I watched with envy as the other kids picked up shifts at McDonalds or babysitting. It killed me to know that they got to earn their own money to spend on whatever they wanted, but I was stuck with an allowance that didn’t go very far. In college, I was one of the few students who wasn’t also working. By the time I graduated, I felt lightyears behind everyone else because I had to stretch my resume to reach half a page.
Two years after graduating, I finally was hired. My first and only job: data entry. I’m still working there now, I actually just got extended. Because yeah, graduating with honors got me a 3 month entry level position. Yikes. Anyway, that’s a conversation for another day.
The point is, I had a looong time to think about what my first job would be like. What I’d do, who’d I meet, and how it’d feel. I’ll be honest, it is nothing like I imagined. At 25, I started from scratch and in less than a year, I’ve already learned so much.
It actually is good to ask a lot of questions
I was always that kid in class too afraid to raise their hand and ask questions because I didn’t want to look stupid. Struggling through it on my own felt like the better option, so it’s really no surprise that homework made me so anxious every night. Since starting this job, I’m finding that there’s really no choice but to get comfortable with asking questions. My manager would much rather I ask a few redundant questions than screwing up a file that ends up costing them extra money because I was too shy to speak up.
Mistakes aren’t the opposite of success
I’ve talked about this before, but there are few things I hate more than how I feel after I make a mistake. And I’ve made a fair share since I got hired! My biggest fear for the first few weeks was that they were going to fire me. I’d open an email calling attention to something I needed to fix in one of my files and panic would wash over me.
Except, I’d still get good feedback. My leads would tell me I was doing a good job. I even got an award last month for exceeding expectations. Logically, I know that you can still be successful after making a mistake. I’m slowly learning to let myself trust that.
People don’t care about your awkward moments
I’m a dork and I’m socially awkward. I can carry a conversation, but still. I embarrass myself on a regular basis. The good thing? No one else cares. Most days no one else seems to even notice. It’s really refreshing to know that these moments that I tend to build up so much in my head don’t even register to anyone else.
Learn what you can when you can
Your job might not be your dream job, or maybe it is. You might work there for 10 years or 10 weeks. Since my job is still temporary, I’ve learned how important it is to learn as much as I can as often as I can because I don’t know if I’m going to wind up job hunting again in a few months.
I give every assignment my best effort. I ask questions and I listen when other people on my team give advice. If I hear someone else ask a question, I pay attention in case it’s something I can learn from as well. Every time I learn a new skill, it’s something I can take with me in the future should I wind up unemployed again. Since this is my first job, I’ve made it a priority to get as much out of it as I possibly can.