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15 Things No One Tells You About Your First Real Job

While we are in school and college, most of us spend hours daydreaming about, well, our dream job. We think we know what it is going to be like when we finally get it... and yeah, we probably are a bit too innocent and think we are going to get it sooner rather than later. If you are like everyone else, you probably imagine an ideal world in which every day flies by quickly because you are having so much fun doing what you love. You are probably preparing yourself for the best work friends ever, the most understanding boss, and the lifestyle you’ve been waiting for. Winning the job is definitely a good thing, but unfortunately, none of that stuff is guaranteed! In fact, there might even be a few rude awakenings coming your way. The sooner you know the following 15 facts about your first job, the better.

15 You Will Work Lunches

Lunchtime is not a privilege when you’re growing up, it's totally a given. Unless you’ve been sent to detention, lunch at school is the one period where you can forget about your work and chill out with your friends. College is much more flexible, so sometimes students take a lot more time for those chill-out sessions. But in the workplace, the most important thing is that you get your work done, so you might find that in order to meet those requirements, you’re working into your lunch hour. You may have to meet with people who are only available just as you’re sitting down and preparing to tuck into that chicken wrap. If you’re in retail, customers might bother you as you’re leaving the store for your brief moment of freedom, and the boss doesn’t usually care. BTW, at many places, the lunch hour is sadly really only 30 minutes.

14 You Need To Take Initiative

People have probably been barking at you to take initiative your whole life, but it really matters when you get your first job! In college, you may be encouraged to take control of your studies, but there will always be someone there to remind you of due dates and chase you up when you miss them. It is annoying at the time, but when you get to the workplace, you might be wishing that someone would just remind you of all those horrible deadlines. You will wish you had that firm guidance that most of us resented at school. In the adult world, it is up to you to work out what needs to be done and do it without anybody holding your hand. After all, you ar a grown up now, right? Those who thrive in their careers are the ones who notice small details and go the extra mile without being asked or reminded.

13 You’ll Work Beyond Your Job Description

If it’s your first job, then you’re more than likely starting at the bottom. That’s okay because it’s totally normal and the important thing is you’ve got your foot in the door, but you’ll have to accept the fact that you’re going to have to work your way up and start by doing things that may be outside the boundaries of the actual job role. More experienced colleagues and managers might have you do favors for them, and while you’re not there to be anybody’s slave, it’s good to be cooperative and take the time to do good work and make a good impression. Even as you advance in your job, there are always going to be little, annoying tasks that you didn’t expect to be a part of this career. It's totally normal to do admin tasks or call people or anything else that contributes to the team that you're now a part of,

12 You Have To Book Time Off

It usually comes as a shock that once you are working, you actually need to organize any substantial time off. It would be amazing if the adult world (other than teaching!) came with vacation time at the end of every term, and a massively long break over summer, but that’s just not the case! You should work out when you want time off, and choose wisely because tragically, you can’t have as much off as you want. When you’re ready, book it in advance. It takes time to accumulate leave, and in the first few years, it might be a huge challenge to take more than two weeks off. This all probably sounds like the cruelest thing in the world to somebody who’s just come from college and its record-breaking, enviable semester breaks, but as you start working, the reality will sink in and you’ll see it’s not so bad!

11 You Will Hate Your Job Sometimes

Since you’re going to be spending so much time working, it’s super important to actually enjoy your job. But it’s very rare to land a job that you love 100% of the time. Even with the best jobs, you’ll find that there are hours, days or even weeks when you loathe it. There might be a particular client that you’re working with who’s driving you insane, or a temporary project that’s stressing you out because you find it so difficult. You might have even done something wrong and hate showing your face at the office until it blows over. Those things happen all the time, so just be prepared! Very little in this world is flawless, so you have to put up with the negative elements if you want the positive ones. It doesn’t mean you’ve chosen the wrong job and you need to reconsider; it means that things are normal.

10 You Need To Sleep

Get those all-night study sessions and weeknight parties out of your system when you’re in college, because it’s pretty hard to have a successful working life without a good rest every night! Adults get an insufficient amount of sleep all the time, but if you’re about to go into your first job, you’ll be surprised at how exhausting it is. Even if you’re just sitting at a desk all day, by the end of the shift you’ll be so done. You’ll most likely be waking up early and getting yourself ready, commuting a long way there, having to stress that your boss is lurking behind your back, sitting through a long meeting, doing a large amount of actual work, dealing with colleagues, commuting back, plus getting paperwork ready for the next day. Before you know it, you’ll be one of those people who can’t keep their eyes open past 9:30pm on the couch!

9 You Will Be Tested For Being Young

Often when you get a job straight out of college, people will try and test you. They might want to see how much you know and if you’re really cut out for the job, or they might annoyingly make assumptions about your competency because you’re younger and less-experienced than them. It’s not very nice to be on the receiving end of all those assumptions, but it’s better to expect it so you’re not surprised if it happens to you. It can be difficult under pressure, but you just have to remember that you do deserve to be here because you got the job in the first place! You shouldn’t have to put up with any harassment, but if it doesn’t escalate to that point, the best thing you can do is complete your job to the best of your ability, have a great attitude, be helpful, and prove those silly assumptions wrong!

8 The First Steady Pay Checks Are Amazing

Finally, some good news! Obviously, you are already excited to start getting a regular income, but you won’t really appreciate it until it comes. It is seriously life-changing stuff! People always say that they’ll blow their first paycheck on an awesome gift to themselves, but you’d be surprised at how attached you might get to that money once it’s in your bank account! If it’s your first job, your bank account probably isn’t going to look like a phone number immediately, but you’ll still be making more than you did in those casual summer jobs you used to have. With additional money comes additional opportunities, so it’s exciting to start seriously planning what you’re going to do with your new income! For the first time, you’ll probably be able to plan for a car, or for a vacation (if you can get time off!) or even an apartment. Yes, please!

7 You Have To Make The Effort To Relax

Your hectic new working lifestyle is probably going to be majorly different than the one you had before. You probably thought that relaxing was just a given so you never made a real effort to rest and recharge. When you’re stressed out and busy to the max, it’s important to not neglect your wellbeing and actually make the effort to relax, as odd as that sounds! Before, you probably planned weekend activities without a second thought, because you could sleep in any day. Now, allow yourself at least some time to have a nice, slow morning, even if it’s one day a week. Don’t feel pressured to go out as much as you used to and rush around after work. Of course, you don’t have to become a hermit just because you’ve got a job, but factor in that you’ll need boring old time alone to chill out and rejuvenate.

6 You Will Make Mistakes

Some people are put under an insane amount of pressure when they get their first jobs, and it’s totally common to think that you absolutely can’t afford to make a mistake. Sadly, you definitely will make errors, both before and after you’re hired. Take comfort in the fact that everyone makes mistakes, because it’s a less-accepted part of the human condition and something that you won’t be able to run away from. Remember when Beyoncé fell down 12 stairs at her concert in 2007? Everybody screws up! Even the perfectionists. As long as you’re trying hard to do the right thing and you’re not being totally careless, then you’ll just have to accept it. You’re not suddenly a perfect robot because you got the job you were wanting! It’s okay to pick up your game and improve your standards, but don’t add unnecessary stress by being too hard on yourself.

5 Those Mistakes Matter More

Having said that, the mistakes that you do make will often matter more than the ones you made in high school did. Doesn’t that suck? You won’t be able to stop yourself from making mistakes on occasion, but keep in mind that the stakes are usually much higher in the working world. When you’re at school, the mistakes that you make tend to just affect you. You get in trouble for copying someone else’s work, you suffer the consequences for not studying for the exam, and you have marks taken off your essay for handing it in late. In the workplace, though, your errors will most likely affect others, especially when you’re working as part of a team. If you’re late, you’re probably making somebody else late. If your work is poor, that reflects super badly on the company. You will make mistakes every now and then, but try hard to take care!

4 Bullies Exist Beyond The School Yard

This might be the worst part of the working world! Bullies are everywhere, so it is a bit naïve to think that they won’t ever show up amongst your work colleagues. It is not a definite thing, and you might get lucky and end up working with some really nice people, but you might not. Many of us dream of making amazing friends at work, just because protagonists in movies always have the coolest work friends and we might be a bit resentful that some of our high school and college relationships have fizzled out. Wouldn’t it be awesome if we were guaranteed to make new best friends at work! You should never put up with bullying, whether it is from co-workers or not. Leave yourself open to the possibility so you are not also dealing with shock if it does happen to you, and then deal with it appropriately.

3 People Change Careers All The Time

Contrary to what many people think, it’s not the end of the world if you realize that your dream job isn’t for you. Of course, it's super annoying and frustrating because often we want nothing more than to sort our lives out and know what path we’re on. The reality is that life changes all the time, and so naturally our career path does, too. But the thing is that's why life is so fun and exciting! There is honestly no point to stay at a job that you really hate, and there’s no shame in giving it a try and sticking it out for a while, and then telling your boss that you appreciate the opportunity but it’s not for you. We can guarantee that it happens much more than you’d expect! Lots may change when you start work, but your happiness is still the most important thing, so don’t feel like you’re locked in just because this is what you studied for.

2 Your Attitude Is Really Important

The results that you’ll be getting at work are important, but the significance of a good attitude is often underestimated. The work you do is definitely not the only factor that determines how successful you are in your career! They might not mention it while you’re studying or preparing for the job, but your demeanor in the workplace and your attitude towards your colleagues and the work itself makes a huge difference to how people perceive you. As long as your answers were right on those final exams, nobody at college cared if you slept through those four-hour lectures. But even if you do the best work, your manager really won’t appreciate you snoozing through meetings. If you’re rude to clients on the phone, grumpy when you need to work as part of a group, and unenthusiastic about taking on new opportunities, it could ruin your future with the job.

1 You Learn On The Job

It's only normal and natural to feel a bit nervous and anxious when you start a new job (especially your very first one!). You won't know what to do in every single situation that you find yourself in. But the truth is that with most jobs, you learn the bulk of it while you’re there. Theory can lay down the foundations for you, but experience is what’s going to make you a superstar! Don’t sweat it if you’re not sure how to go about dealing with a new situation, and don’t think that there’s something wrong with you because you have to ask questions. Within a few months, most of the things you’re worried about will become second nature, and you’ll feel a lot more confident. The trap is that people might feel like they need to be that confident before they start and while you should be as prepared as you can, you just need to jump in that deep water and swim!

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