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4 Things That You Learn From Your First Job That Impact Your Career

In many ways, teaching English in Taiwan is my first “real” job. Sure, I’ve had part-time positions, but this is my first full-time position. Each respective job, whether it was a part-time position, or my current position, has taught me a lot about what I can and can’t handle in a position, insights that have proved invaluable as I move through my career.

Your first job can be especially valuable because it can give you particularly valuable insight that you can use for the rest of my career. Here is what I’ve learned from mine.

4 Things That You Can Learn From Your First Job That You Can Carry For The Rest of Your Career

1. What kind of environment you thrive in.

Your work environment is a crucial component of your work experience. Although it’s highly unlikely that you will land in your ideal environment in your first job right out of school, you can still learn a great deal about the kind of environment that you would work best in.

Working your first job will allow you to learn a lot about the kind of work environment that you don’t like. Knowing what you don’t like allows you to learn not only what you can handle, but it also teaches you what sort of components may need to factor into your future ideal work environment.

Did the pace of your summer retail job make you anxious or overwhelm you? Maybe you would be better suited to a job with a slower pace. Your experiences in your first job can help direct your future choices.

Experience can be a fantastic teacher; you never know if you are suited to something unless you try it. In my case, I didn’t know if teaching was a field that I wanted to go into until I decided to take the plunge and move to Taiwan and teach English. My experience here has certainly impacted my future career decisions and given me a lot to consider moving forward.

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2. What kind of communication patterns you can tolerate.

Effective communication is key to success in any job. Everyone has different personalities and quirks, and each of us communicates differently. Interacting with different people from different cultures and backgrounds at your work and working in different environments will also teach you what kind of communication patterns you can handle.

Working in a variety of jobs with a diverse group of people will also teach you how to communicate effectively with people from all over the world. Working abroad has allowed me to build a greater sense of flexibility and tolerance for the different ways that people communicate.

Every company you will work for will have a different culture and communication practices. Your first job can teach you not only how to communicate with others, but how to adapt to others’ communication patterns.

You will learn how your co-workers respond to you and what gets the best response out of them, skills that you can continue to utilize for the rest of your career.

3. What you don’t like in a work environment.

There will inevitably be something (or multiple things) that you dislike in your work environment. While your first job certainly won’t teach you everything about what you dislike in a job, knowing what you absolutely dislike will can help you make conscious choices about the sorts of jobs to pursue in the future.

Keeping a record in some form, whether or not that’s a journal or a running pros and cons list of each job will help you remember what you disliked about each job. While it’s nearly impossible to find an absolutely perfect job that ticks all of your boxes, each position you earn from this point onward can teach you more and more about what you like and what you don’t like.

In any and every job, there will be things that you dislike about a particular position. However, in the words of the author of one of my favorite books, “Experience is what you get when you didn’t get what you wanted.” Sometimes that experience is the most valuable thing you will take away.

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4. The pace of work you can handle.

If you absolutely know that you can’t handle a certain pace, it’s best to avoid positions that would require you to consistently perform your responsibilities. Yes, communicating your boundaries and your limits is important, but it’s also important to understand the pace that you are comfortable with.

For example, if you know that you are comfortable with focusing on one project at a time rather than trying to multitask, take note of that. This is not to say that you will be able to avoid multitasking completely, but knowing what your tendencies are can help to create a niche for yourself that will allow you to utilize your skills to the best of your ability within your current company.

Finding work that allows you to move at a pace that you’re comfortable with may be a challenge, but pushing yourself to maintain a rapid pace if you’d prefer to work at a slower pace can leave you even more exhausted. By the same token, working at a slower pace can be very difficult for someone who is accustomed to working much more rapidly.

Try and note the pace that works best for you and find a way to accommodate that in your current position.

Knowing how you work best is something that you can learn from your first job that you can carry for the rest of your career. Each job you have will help you develop something that you can use and carry for the rest of your career.

About the Author

Alisa Tanaka

Alisa Tanaka graduated with a Communications degree from Lewis & Clark College in 2012. She hopes to develop a career that allows her to make a measurable impact on the world while doing something that she loves. Her interests include psychology, linguistics, and mental health. She can also be found reading, watching documentaries, and writing her blog.