Your first job teaches you what you want the rest of your career to look like. Here are 4 questions for self-reflection.

Getting a college education is worth every penny. You learn all sorts of life skills such as time management, self-discipline, and organization–just by taking your courses.

When you’re searching and applying for that first job, you want to look for certain qualities that you have and specifications that the title obtains. Qualities that concern your skill set and specifications that will benefit you in the long run.

The long run will help you into the industry–or job–that you’ve always wanted to wake up and go to every day. Your first job isn’t your dream job. Throughout your years, you’re told this over and over again. Why? Because it’s supposed to teach you reality from when you come out of college into the real world.

Your first job is about learning, working hard, and figuring out what you want in life.

If you’re curious or always questioning your first job (in a negative manner), have you ever asked yourself these positive questions?

1. What can I work on?

One of the most important elements from a first job is learning. Coming straight out of college, we all know the struggle when it comes to landing a job, but once you’ve got one, you want to keep learning and working on your techniques, work ethic, and everyday tasks.

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For instance, you might be really good at writing, but need to work on grammar or details to the content. Just because you’re good at something doesn’t mean you’ve mastered it. In today’s workforce, things are rapidly changing, so you’ll want to be as dynamic and educated on your industry for when another job opportunity comes about.

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2. Do I want my role to be related to my major?

Most first jobs don’t get you right where you want to be. According to this data, only 27% of college grads have a job related to their degree. This could indicate that many jobs don’t require a specific field of study, just a degree. But you learn more in college than just what your professors teach you.

Most college grads find themselves in an entry level position. They key is putting in the work and making yourself available to opportunities.

There’s no right answer here. If you want a job related to your major, start looking for opportunities in that direction. If you don’t, you still have plenty of other skills (and a degree) to use. There’s no need to feel guilty about it.

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3. Is the environment right for me?

A first job can tell you a lot about the environment you want to work in. For example, you’ll learn if you thrive in a fast-paced environment that involves a good amount of stress or if you’d prefer to work for a small company where everyone collaborates on all projects.

Reflection is necessary to understand what you truly want. No one can give you answers. Your first job will tell you whether you like working for a small or large company; It will tell you if you like working together on projects or working on projects alone. Knowing these things will be key in finding the job that is right for you.

As for your preferred work environment, that can depend on your communication, flexibility, building trust between co-workers and advisors, providing feedback, asking questions, and providing a sense of purpose to why you’re there. You, your co-workers, and the higher-ups in your company benefit from a good workplace environment. If you’re looking to create a better environment for yourself, consider these elements before looking for a new job.

4. What skills have I acquired for my next job?

Assessing your skill set from your first job will tell you everything you’ve learned at that job. Keep track of the tasks, programs, and skills you learn–this list will come in handy while searching for your next job.

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For example, you might have learned how to use Adobe Illustrator. Not only can you say you know how to use the program, but you’ll be able to provide examples of your skills from the work you complete.

The things you learn in your first job will keep you ahead of the game for your second job, and so on.


When I start to doubt my abilities or feel stuck, I turn to this quote:

“Believe in yourself and all that you are. Know that there is something inside you that is greater than any obstacle.” – Christian D. Larson

As twenty-somethings, we like to think we’re going to end up with our ideal job right away. In order to get there, we have to put the hard work and effort into our first couple jobs for that to work out. Let’s focus on the positives instead of the negatives, and making our jobs right now be the start of a spectacular career.

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