What to Expect From Your First Job

Image by Bench Accounting, unsplash.com

Image by Bench Accounting, unsplash.com

When you are about to graduate from college, you will have high expectations about your first job. You might have had some part time jobs, which provided you with insight on what the business world might look like. Prospective employers may even approach you before your final exam and offer you a relatively attractive salary. After graduation, however, things might get more serious than you expected. Take into account the following situations you may encounter:

Demanding Work Schedule
Your typical workday will be 8 to 12 hours (or more) depending on the nature of the job and the amount of time it takes for you to commute from home to work. A full-time job might not give you a chance to have the frequent breaks you had in college. After class, you were able to take time out to catch up on lost sleep or explore extracurricular activities. With your first job, however, your schedule will change abruptly. Even if you stayed up late the previous night, you will have to be alert from 7am when you leave your home until about 7pm when you get back. You may need to develop new schedules for sleeping, eating, exercise and stress-relieving activities.

Learning Curve for the Work and Office Relationships
No matter what your grade point average was in school, you will still have to learn a lot about your job and how to handle interoffice communication. From using Office applications like Excel, Outlook and project management software to managing official emails, you will be faced with a relatively steep learning curve. A useful trick to shorten the learning curve can be obtaining adequate information about the kind of tasks you will perform and the tools required from some of your seniors who have already passed through the entry level stage.

More Expenses
After you leave school, your monthly allowance and student loans will stop. You will have to buy new clothes and shoes for work. You must deduct all your expenses (including accommodation, transportation, clothing, lunch, gym membership, student loan repayment and others) from your salary. So the excitement that comes with collecting a paycheck may not last when you calculate the total expenses you will have to deduct from it. Living within your means and making an estimate of monthly expenses will help you avoid going into debt. Try to keep that in mind when negotiating your salary.

Work May Not Fit the Job Description
Most employers will not thrust a lot of mission critical work, big decisions or client-facing opportunities at you immediately. Contrary to your expectations, your boss may ask you to do relatively repetitive and mundane tasks for the first few weeks. In fact, you may be tempted to complain because your job responsibilities do not match what you were told during the job interview. Don’t despair. Use this period to learn all you can about the company and keep up with industry and career news so you can use each task to prepare for greater responsibilities within the company or on another job. When your boss is satisfied with how you handle the easier tasks, he will be able to trust you with more challenging responsibilities.

Unequal Treatment By Your Boss
Don’t expect to always be given impartial treatment by your boss or company. If you notice that someone from the same school, home state or background as your boss is receiving preferential treatment, try not to take it personally. It will be hard, for sure. But strive to see that situation as a challenge whenever possible. Do your job within time and quality requirements, and you will be on the right track to receiving the preferential treatment for yourself. Also, be sure to focus on your strengths and invest in your personal development. Concentrate on expanding your skill-set and use every task as an opportunity to develop your potentials.

All professionals faced these situations at certain points in their careers. The best thing you can do is remain open for new business adventures, and be ready to constantly learn and adjust. In order to avoid unpleasant surprises however, it might be a good idea to spend some time learning about job ads, or consulting other people who have successfully overcome the challenges that new graduates face in their first job.

This article was contributed by guest author Mila Payton.