Five Tips to Help You Love Your First Job

Holly Caplan Shares Tips on How to Enjoy Your First Job

Photo courtesy of Pablo by Buffer

By Holly Caplan

New college grads will have an advantage this year in the job market. Employers plan to hire 4 percent more new graduates for their U.S. operations from the Class of 2018 than they did from the Class of 2017. So, congratulations to the Class of 2018, not only are you finishing school, but there will be more space for you in the job market. Knowing this gives you an advantage because they want you!

Getting the first job is a big accomplishment as it gives financial sustenance and the opportunity to make your mark in the working world.  A lot of time and effort is put into getting the job, and the interview advice can be rampant. Advice runs the gamut of how to format your resume, to what suit to wear.  This is all very helpful, but what happens when you actually get the job? What’s next? There is no road map for this. The first job is typically full of unchartered territory and can throw curve balls full of unexpected situations. These situations aren’t something your college courses can prepare you for, but real life will.

Here are some tips that will help you enjoy your first job:

1. Pick Your Clique. When starting a first job, realize that you are walking into an already established work culture. While you may be in training and learning about the tasks of your job, you will also be learning about the new personalities around you and inner office dynamics. This can be a bit of a shock, especially as the office gossip unfolds and the culture reveals itself.  I mean, you didn’t encounter this stuff during the interview, so why are you just seeing it now? Worry not, every workplace has it’s own dynamic. As you get to know your new 8-5 home, you will find co-workers who are positive and can be asset to you, and you will find those who are negative and bring you down. Don’t get involved with the latter.  Don’t get sucked into those who love misery or talk about what the new sales director had on that day. Surround yourself with those who lead by example and bring positivity and support to your new world.  And in time, pay it forward by doing the same for other incoming employees.

2. Engage Yourself Quickly. Even though you may have already gotten the job, you can quickly create name for yourself by proactively setting up meetings with different people in the organization.  Schedule some time with 5 different employees and ask them about their history, why they joined the company and some of their goals. This shows that you are trying to integrate yourself and that you have a genuine interest in them and how they contribute to the bigger picture. Plus, these new relationships can be your foundation, and these people could be the same ones to help you in a new project or even just be a resource while you grow in your new role.

3. Don’t be afraid to call out bad behavior. This may feel a little intimidating at first, especially being a new employee, but in our #metoo world, we have to be open to calling out bad behavior.  If you encounter something that makes you uncomfortable, don’t be afraid to report it.  An example I’m compelled to share the story of a 23 year old woman who took on a role as marketing manager for a large food corporation. She was asked to take some top customers to a hockey game to get to know them better and let them know they were appreciated.  Upon arriving in the arena, they let her know their plan was to get wasted and that they expected her to be the beer runner.  Unsure if this was appropriate, she ran their beer. Twice. One of the male customers became rather handsy with her after the alcohol hit his system. She didn’t have to think about this twice.  She just got up and left.  She called her boss on the way home to let him know what happened and the discomfort she felt. He commended her for leaving the situation and reporting it.  I do too.

4. What if you don’t get the job? Like everyone says, finding a job is a job. We put a lot of energy, time and emotion into finding the right work place for us. We immerse and invest ourselves into something that hasn’t happened in blind faith that we could be chosen. We are hopeful, excited and become emotionally involved.  So you may ask, after all of this, “What if I don’t get it? How do I handle it?”  If you don’t get it, don’t beat yourself up. In the interview process, you most likely learned a lot and made of a lot of new connections – which in itself is valuable. You never know what can happen in the future, and your paths could cross again.

5. Work the totem pole. We all strive for success and we especially want it immediately! Myself included. However, know that it will take a good 10-12 months in your new job to find your groove and feel confident in what you are doing.  You will have big wins and major mistakes along the way, but know it is part of the process called, “paying your dues”.  We all go through it.  Be grateful because no matter how fun or stressful paying your dues can be, you are building new skillsets for yourself that will take you from job to job. In time, working your way up the totem pole will happen and promotions and new roles will appear.  Be eager, be patient and enjoy the climb.

Your first job, no matter how long you are there, will always be memorable. In the coming months you will be creating the foundation of your career and setting yourself on the path for success.

About the Author

Holly Caplan is a workplace issues expert, career coach and author of Surviving the Dick Clique: A Girl's Guide to Surviving the Male Dominated Corporate World. For more information, please visit, and connect with her on Twitter, @hollymcaplan.


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