Your first job probably wasn’t in your field — odds are, it wasn’t even in shouting distance. But you can learn just as much from your first just-for-cash gig as you do from the internship that starts off your official career.
(Photo Credit: New Amsterdam Market/Flickr)
Over at Lifehacker, Eric Ravenscraft lists five lessons that first job can teach you, including that everyone is expendable, company culture is important, and the importance of knowing when to quit. To those, we’ll add:
1. Money isn’t everything.
Sure, it’s hard to be happy without money, but it’s hardly ever worth it to take a high-earning job that’s a bad fit, over an OK-earning job that’s made for you. Just ask any dissatisfied waiter who traded high tips for an entry-level position in a his dream field: the initial hit to the bank account stings, but it’s worth it to be doing something that’s more likely to make you excited to go to work in the morning.
2. Nothing lasts forever.
Not everyone hates their first job. Some people are lucky enough to have awesome early jobs, the kind movie producers spin teen films around, with fun colleagues and free ice cream or a view of the beach. And then summer ends.
Just as you should be prepared to quit, you should also be prepared for good times to come to an end. Sooner or later, you’ll probably find yourself working at a company after the party is over, sometimes on the strength of happier memories from last year or a few months ago, before the corporate culture changed or the business ran into problems. Steel yourself to see things as they are today, not as they were in summertime.
3. People are important.
If you have fond memories of your first job, it’s probably because of your boss or your co-workers. After all, you probably weren’t earning a six-figure salary or running your own company. (Although, if you were, feel free to tell us about it in the comments — and share your secrets to early success.)
Bad managers are the No. 1 people leave their jobs, and bad co-workers can affect everything from your productivity to your job satisfaction to your chances at promotion. If you find yourself in a place where you just don’t see eye-to-eye with those around you, start looking for ways to make a change.
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