Unsolicited advice pours on when you get your first job. It’s mostly stuff you’ve heard before from someone else, or it seems obvious, or it’s not helpful at all – coming in the form of jabs at your work or how you’ll screw up. Sometimes it’s helpful. Sometimes it’s funny. Sometimes your ignore it completely.
Whatever the kind of advice you’re getting about your first job, there are a few things everyone should know, true advice to keep in the back of your mind.
Be in Sync
Really, this just means fit in. But it’s also about timing and being appropriate.
You’ll be told to, “dress to impress” but keep in mind that too much too soon can be a bad thing. Keep safety and company image in mind when putting together your outfit or uniform.
Staying in sync also applies to positioning yourself. There’s no such thing a stupid question, don’t be afraid to ask questions, learn from your coworkers. All true. Mostly. But try to keep in mind that your bosses and coworkers, like you, will need to be approached at an appropriate time. Don’t blindside anyone with a barrage of questioning. Send an email or let them know some other way that you have a series of questions you’d like to ask about a particular specific topic. It’ll help them formulate the best answer and they’ll appreciate your foresight.
Learn to Say “No”
While going above and beyond is always helpful to making an excellent impression in your first, or any, job, keep in mind that you can say no. This isn’t always the case. You’ll obviously have to complete the duties put forth in your job description. There are times when you’ll be asked to do something unsafe, or something that you shouldn’t be allowed to do. Maybe it’s a task you simply don’t have the time to complete in a quality manner. Saying no may feel hard, but under the right circumstances will earn you respect you couldn’t have otherwise gained.
Good ones are hard to find. Average is… average. Bad bosses are rare but manageable, particularly in your early career. Here’ the thing though; when you know you have a good one, learn from them! Someone along the way has probably told you to find a mentor, but a mentor isn’t always someone who explicitly fills that role. Actively take the time to learn from anyone who has experience to offer.
This Won’t Be Your Last Job
If your first job is a terrible fit, don’t worry, you’ll probably be moving on soon. Not many people stick with the first job they’ve ever had and despite all of the excitement and encouragement you’ll receive from friends and family, remember that there’s a number of other entry level jobs out there that you can apply for. Pro Tip: don’t wait to apply until after you’ve quit. Start looking and secure your next job before you leave. If you can.