As young professionals take their first steps into the workforce, there are many factors that can push them in one direction or another, including financial compensation, pigeon-holing from a college degree, or even just desperation to find whatever role will have them. Whatever the reason may be for choosing that first role, it is important to keep these factors in mind as you navigate the professional world for the first time.
Understanding the Professional World
Often times the first job right out of school is the first foray into the professional world, and many habits and opinions on how work is done will be formed with this first role. While there is nothing wrong with a laid-back office or work-from-home, it is important to gain an understanding of life in the office and the etiquette that comes with it. Your first role can go a long way in establishing standards for yourself that can translate well to the next role or organization.
Be Picky, But Not Too Picky
It is important to be selective with the roles that you are applying to and ultimately accept. At this early point in a career, it helps to build a solid base within the desired industry. This does not mean the role has to be an exact fit right off the bat based upon a particular job title or even responsibilities on your first day. However, it is important to keep in mind the opportunities to grow and progress within an organization; if a company does not allow for much flexibility in building towards your goals, look for a position that does offer that freedom.
Build a Solid Base of Skills
Versatility and adaptability are both valuable traits in the workplace, but it is much easier to advance in your career and within an organization by working towards expertise in one aspect, as opposed to being average at many things. The first professional job is a good opportunity to not only get a feel for which trait you’d like to develop, but can be a time to start building toward that expertise if the situation permits. While a college degree can provide some initial insights into certain techniques or skills, real expertise is developed over time in professional situations. It is important to find an area that interests you or contributes value to your long-term goals, even if the role does not necessarily fit your aspirations in the short term.