What to Expect for Your First Job: Fact vs. Fiction
Myths are fun. If you swallow chewing gum, will it stick in your stomach for seven years? If you drop a penny off the Empire State Building, does it become a deadly weapon? When you get your first job, will your coworkers treat you like the office drudge?
Wait, that last example wasn’t fun. In fact, it ticked you off. You’re about to start your first “real” job, and you have no idea what to expect from the professional world. Enough with copper coins and sticks of gum. You want the truth.
It’s hard to wade through the ocean of information and pick out fact from fiction. But fret no more, because we’re about to investigate the most common rumors about your first job and let you know whether they’re fact or fiction.
1. Your starting salary will be $70,000: MYTH
Let’s go toe-to-toe with the heavyweight right out the gate: your salary expectations are likely too high. Having a degree doesn’t even guarantee you a job, let alone a high-paying job.
Your starting salary should come close to industry standards in your area, and it should cover set expenses like rent and student loans. But don’t be surprised if your major bills practically drain your bank account at first. You have plenty of time to move up and get a raise, so while you might find yourself in salary negotiations down the road, try not to dwell on your initial salary.
2. You’ll work long hours and be stressed all the time: MYTH
Okay, there might be days when you show up to work before sunrise, frantically juggle four different assignments at once and feel like you’re balding at your desk. Stress and long hours are inherent parts of work.
But once you settle into your position, you’ll figure out how to manage your time effectively. Daily tasks won’t wear you down, you’ll learn how to prioritize your projects and you’ll become more flexible. Plus, unlike nightly classwork, your job responsibilities normally stay at the office, so you can enjoy some free time once you’re off the clock.
3. Your first job will affect the rest of your career: FACT
Your first job is important. Not just because you get exposure to the professional world, learn how to work in a team and figure out what you’re passionate about. Your first job is valuable because it lays the groundwork for your not-so-immediate future.
Sure, you might jump ship and change career paths 15 years down the road. But in many cases, your first job has a tremendous butterfly effect on the direction of your career. If you start as a sales associate, there’s a good chance you’ll stay in retail. But even if you don’t, this first job will undoubtedly affect your future in one way or another.
4. You’ll hate your first job: MYTH
“Hate” is an extreme, and so is “love.” The truth is, you’ll likely feel pretty “meh” about your first job. You might love your coworkers and the freedom you’re given, but you might hate the menial tasks, the CEO and the company’s lack of direction.
It can take more a than decade to find the perfect position with the perfect company, but your first job will give you valuable industry experience that will springboard you into your future. Even if you detest certain aspects of the job, you should appreciate the opportunities it gives you.
5. No more college means no more fun: MYTH
College might be behind you, but that doesn’t mean playtime is over. After all, you haven’t transformed into a new person. If you like to play tennis, brew beer and watch horror flicks, well, you’ll probably continue to hit the courts, sip some suds and throw popcorn at your television.
Sure, you’re going to have a busier schedule during the week, only a few weeks of vacation per year and fewer on-campus bowling clubs to join. But entirely new doors will open up to you as a young professional. Plus, now you’ll have a little extra cash to splurge.
6. You’ll be the office gofer: MYTHOLO-FACT
Yes, your coworkers might send you on Friday doughnut runs. Yes, unwanted spreadsheets might get emailed your way. But you’ll also have your own set of responsibilities that your teammates will depend on you to complete.
Until you establish some tenure, expect a few mind-numbing assignments. But once you’re no longer the bumbling trainee, you’ll probably be the one doling out tasks to office newbies.
7. There’s no going back: MYTH
So you sold your soul to your employer, who now has a vice-like grip on your destiny, and there’s no turning back, right?
You actually have more opportunities open to you now. The problem is that it’s easy to feel stuck once you’ve signed an offer sheet and established a routine.
Your first job is normally a resume builder. Maybe you’ll end up loving the company and staying put for several years. But in many cases, your first job gives you some time to reflect on your options, like going back to school or switching industries.
Rocco Brown-Morris is the Content Team Manager for www.livecareer.com, America’s #1 Resume Builder. Check them out at www.facebook.com/livecareer or on Google+ for advice and tips on all things career- and resume-related.
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