• Melissa Kartini

My First Time Working a “Real” Job

Updated: Aug 6, 2018


Photo by our Nuffie, Leanne Saw


Do you remember your first job? Daunting, wasn’t it? Fresh out of college with next to no work experience under your belt- aside from your internship and maybe retail work. Just how does one go about surviving the “real” world? Are there certain rules we have to follow? With a million and one questions swirling around in your mind, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed!


Now, working at your first job isn’t a breeze, but here are a couple of things I’ve taken away from my first job experience that will hopefully help you with yours.


Stay grounded and remember you’re still a newbie

It’s easy to get carried away when you are at the initial stages of your first job. Resentment for having to do “menial” tasks at the beginning is all too common, but the moment you start feeling anything akin to this, stop. Remember that although you studied in college for years, you still have a lot to learn- and the (unattractive) start of your career is part of the package.


It is at this point that it’s more important to show off your work ethic rather than your knowledge. Only once you’ve gained the trust of your employer will you eventually gain more and more responsibilities. Don’t be impatient; learn to work your way up!


Stay organized and never miss a deadline

This is obvious, but you’d be surprised by how often people mess this up. Bear in mind that you’re not in college anymore. While it was perfectly acceptable to miss a day or two of class without notice, doing the same at work is just about unforgivable. The same goes for deadlines. You’re allowed to extend your deadlines in college, and you may be able to do that at the later stages of work. Certainly not at the initial stages, however. That would definitely affect your reputation in the eyes of both your boss and colleagues.


You’re not in college anymore. The stakes are higher at work.


Up your communication skills

One of the most undervalued yet one of the most sought-after skills is the ability to communicate. Soft skills are incredibly valuable in the eyes of employers; so much so that the lack of them can be a deal-breaker in procuring a job. So it is important to remember to keep them sharp as well. Don’t neglect them in favour of academics and learning how to do your job- and this is, trust me, all too easy to do.


Never underestimate the power of good communication skills.


Pay attention to company culture

Fitting in is important, especially when hundreds or thousands of people want your job. Which is why it is crucial to take note of the culture of the company you’re in. While this doesn’t mean you have to go out of your way to change your personality, you should at least make a bit of an effort to fit in. Introducing yourself at the office and of course, getting to know your colleagues is a good start. By doing so, you will not only build bonds, you will also learn more things about the company- and that will only make you look good.


And honest to goodness, don’t participate in gossip.


Photo by our Community member, freddiiliciouss


Don’t be afraid to ask questions

Just like when you were in college, you shouldn’t be afraid to ask questions at work. After all, your colleagues would rather you ask as opposed to having you make mistakes. That said, while you’re allowed to make mistakes, there is still a limit. The rule of thumb is not to make the mistake again.


Everyone remembers their first few weeks at work, so they will go easy on you at first. Just don’t take this readily laid-out kindness for granted.


Photo by our Nuffie, Meagan Tan


Never underestimate the power of skill acquisition

It’s extremely easy to get a bit too comfortable at work. Now, no matter how tempting it is, you shouldn’t fall prey to the tempting lure of stability. In this increasingly competitive job market, your value as an employee decreases every day you remain complacent.


Which makes it all the more essential for you to keep learning. Strive not only to learn more things at work; do it outside of work as well. You’d be surprised by how much this will help you in the long run. Sooner or later, you’ll find that companies will look for you, as opposed to the other way around. How great is that? Aim to be the type of employee that employers would rush over to hire.


Photo by our Nuffie, Edwin Wong


Your first job is hardly ever a walk in the park, so be sure to learn something from it. Good luck!


This special feature is written by Melissa Kartini.

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