Lessons my first job taught me

Sunday, September 15, 2019

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As a newly-minted 30-year-old, I fall somewhere in the middle of those considered millennials; so I have enough practice at it for my bosses to think I can adequately share our experience here but way too much for younger millennials who are disgusted by the mere fact I was born in the 1980s. But we all learnt and continue to benefit from lessons from that first job.

 

PUT IN HONEST WORK

The first time I thought about quitting first job, my friends cautioned me about how that would look to my next employer. Truth be told, this was within the first month so there was no way that was ever going to make it on my résumé, but the lesson I took from that was to do learn all I could, do my absolute best and be duly instructed by the moments in which my best was not good enough.

lt made me work harder than I ever had to. Every day felt like a new challenge because I always had to push myself that much more in order to be better than mediocre. Valuable writing, editing and researching skills were taught as I tried to distinguish myself from others doing similar work.

 

RELY ON YOUR CONNECTIONS

Even when we think we are at the bottom of the ladder, there are usually connections that we have forged that will assist at some point of our career. I never thought I was well-connected but casual conversations with friends I went to journalism school with saw them become resources for stories, provided me with ideas for pieces and helped me find people who could add new perspective to old topics. Often times, we have to remove ourselves from situations and take an honest, open look at the people around us and see how they can add meaning to what we do and want to achieve. Ricardo from high school isn't just the guy who was good at Math, he's also now an analyst at a company that may have a vacancy you're perfectly suited to fill.

 

START FROM THE BOTTOM

In the words of the illustrious and wise Aubrey Graham (Drake), “started from the bottom, now we here”! Even if you were fortunate enough to have not started at the bottom and became entrusted with great responsibility quickly, know the work being done below you and the people doing it. Work won't always be glamorous, even that dream job of yours will require regular reports you despise.

 

Most times we will not have the luxury of working for a company that has the same goals as us, so asking the right questions and being fully aware of what you sign up for is important. Our ideals, regardless of how foolish and impractical they seem to others, make us who we are. A company and the culture of its people should reflect that.

 

MAINTAIN A PROFESSIONAL ATTITUDE

Initially, I had 'positive attitude' as part of that but I can't in good conscience say that. I am very practical. Almost to a fault, and that translates into much of what I do in life. I temper that by trying to be professional at all times, or my 'elder millennial' version of it. Ultimately, all current jobs will have an impact on future ones whether through achievement, recommendation or challenge. You want it to be said that you performed it with competence and grace.

— Paul Allen


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