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3 Pieces of Advice for Your First Professional Job

We’ve all been there: selling ice cream at the kiosk, babysitting the neighbour’s kids, cashier work at the local grocery store, and all the other countless odd jobs here and there. With luck, these unglamorous yet necessary experiences will teach you to be resilient, patient and if nothing else, an expert at making perfect ice cream scoops – a skill you can show off at any dining event. But there’s nothing quite like signing the contract to your very first professional job, one that matches your educational background no less. Whether you’re a fresh graduate transitioning into work life or a student aiming to balance your studies with the demands of a full-time job, here are a few pieces of advice which will hopefully come in handy:

1.  Don’t restrict yourself within a mould

Our society is changing rapidly and more often than not you’ll encounter job postings looking for multitalented applicants such as social-media-guru-marketing-expert-coding-wizard-and-all-around-good-guys. These people may not be me or you, but it doesn’t mean you don’t have the potential to be more than what your university diploma claims or what the history of your work experience reveal. In nurturing and encouraging work environments, you’ll come across many opportunities to step out of your comfort zone and refine and expand your skillset. Sure you’ll make mistakes and feel like a fool, but you’ll also gain confidence and appreciation for your work. So regardless of what your job is, try not to go in with a predefined and immutable idea of what you’re capable of and thus deny yourself the possibility of discovering hidden talents – you’ll be surprised of just how far you can go.

2. Don’t demand too much from yourself

Though seemingly paradoxical to the previous point, there’s a fine line between being too ambitious and burning yourself out, and knowing just how much workload you can take is an important skill to have. It can be especially tempting in the beginning to take on as many tasks as possible in order to prove your worth as the new hire (which is completely understandable), but it can be treacherous to make promises you won’t eventually be able to keep. So be honest, and merciful to yourself, and within the boundaries of your work conditions, create a productive and balanced pace of work rhythm. By law you’re given certain rights as an employee, so make good use of them, whether it’s taking the coffee break in the afternoon or the occasional longer lunch break, to clear your thoughts and regroup.

3. Show interest in your co-workers and network

You may be surprised to find yourself in a workplace where greeting each other good morning is not a given and where your co-workers seem too preoccupied with their own work to show interest in others. Don’t take this personally, but rather, try to make the effort and take the initiative to get to know your co-workers (no matter how much of an idiot you feel). People in general like talking about themselves and they take great delight in discovering that others have paid attention. The skill to be able to converse freely with different kinds of people is a great one to master, especially when building your own network of contacts within and even outside of your workplace, for example with clients and vendors. The world is full of possibilities and coincidences and you’ll never know whether someone’s fond memories of you being a good listener and persistently inquiring after their best cupcake recipe, will prove to be a decisive factor in building your future career.

The best of luck to all those starting this new chapter in their lives! What advice would you give to someone starting their first professional job? Any experiences you would like to share? Comment below or leave a message on our Facebook page

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Lyra Li

Helsinki

A perpetual dreamer searching for new adventures, more crime novels to read and the determination to become a minimalist.
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