What my real life job has taught me

Fresh out of university (more or less) starting my first new job has taught me a few things. Surely everything I’ve accomplished this far has prepared me for this moment?

Well, my journey from university to career hasn’t been easy. I’ve had many ups and downs. It is well known that now more than ever, us young professionals often experience a serious learning curve coming fresh out of university. No matter your level of experience, your approach and attitude to that all-important first job can serve as a stepping stone for future success.

Here are five of the many lessons I learned from my post-college job:

  1. Arrive early. During my first week at work, I noticed that many of my colleagues were getting to the office very early, about half an hour before the scheduled start time. I followed their cue and started arriving at work at a similar time (around 8am) That gives me plenty of time to sit down with breakfast, settle in to check my emails and make my to-do list before the office really starts buzzing with activity. I actually quite enjoy the distraction-free quiet time before the emails start pouring in and my phone starts ringing. Also, when you arrive early, people start to notice and it definitely enhances reputation.
  1. Make work friends. Working 37 hours a week with colleagues is more time than we spend at home with our friends and family. One of the best ways to make work more enjoyable is to make friends. It helps that I work with a great bunch of people, but taking time out of the day to chat and learn more about each others personal lives certainly strengthens those relationships. A recent study actually shows that having social support at work will help you live longer. Bonus! However, studies and research aside, this is common sense; friendships make us feel good, and when we feel good, we are happier and more satisfied.
  1. Mind your manners. I grew up minding my p’s and q’s thanks to my mam, but this job reinforced the importance of being polite and respectful to absolutely everyone I meet. No matter someone’s job title or rank in the company, every employee is important and has a role. A smile and hello in the hallway or small talk down the corridor can go a long way. You could be cheering up someones day, and it takes two seconds to do so!
  1. Organisation is key. I was organised through university (after some time) obsessed with crossing items off my to do list, and having lists for lists. However, when I joined the real world of being an adult, I took my organisational skills to a whole new level. Staying organised isn’t just helpful, it is imperative to success in my job. Keeping on top of things was the difference between completing tasks well and on time and being sloppy and late. I’ve learned to love my Outlook Calendar and its reminder features, and my daily to-do lists were detailed, even down to the simplest task. I also try to keep my desk tidy because a tidy desk = a tidy mind.
  1. Recognise that building skills takes time. One of my major responsibilities is creating graphics to share on social media. It has been a huge challenge to learn how to use PhotoShop and Illustrator, as I only had basic knowledge about these systems. Building skills takes time. The first few images I made needed quite a few changes which took me back at first as I was overly proud of the images I’d made. But then I realised that if it was easy, then anyone could do it. It was absolutely okay that my skills weren’t good first time, because they are now getting there.

What lessons have you learned from you first “real world” job?


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