Upon graduating from college, you will be on a desperate hunt for a job. You will likely search high and low for something in your field and interview so many times you wonder if you are starting to speak in gibberish about your experience and accomplishments. If you are like most recent graduates, you will end up with a job you took just to have and question if what you studied so long and hard for was even what you wanted.
Have no fear! Better things are on their way.
Here are some things you will want to do at your first job that will help you prepare for the next one:
Always offer to help.
In your first job, you will likely not be given enough tasks to keep you busy right off the bat. New coworkers need to get used to having you around and figure out how it is they can utilize you best. So when you hear a coworker say they need something done but don’t have time, speak up and offer to help out. When there is a task that needs to be accomplished, offer to do it. Then, when it is time for you to take that job you always wanted, your coworkers will realize how useful you have been…and be a great reference
Always keep track of your contacts.
In college, you have likely met with a lot of really great people and gotten a lot of business cards. Keep in contact with them! Mentors are a great source of advice and jobs. Knowing someone will always speed up the hiring process.
Always focus on the end goal.
While you may be working at a job that you don’t want to make your career, you can’t forget what you want in the end. If you want to do social media, but can’t get a job without experience – volunteer to do social media for a nonprofit. Blog for companies that need writers. Keep up with social media trends to make a cover letter stand out with your extensive knowledge.
Always keep up with the field you want to work in.
Companies want to know that you are passionate and knowledgeable, especially considering your age and inexperience, so show them you know your stuff. You will undoubtedly be asked in interviews how you keep up with trends, what blogs you read, or something along the lines of inquiring whether or not you are just working or if you are learning and evolving as a professional. Experience is great, but passion is the icing everyone wants on the cake.
You never know what job you may think you aren’t experienced for, but that actually want someone just like you. You may also interview for a job, not get it, but then be called back later!
Ending your first job will be hard, even if you don’t enjoy it. Like any breakup, leaving your first job will be like the end of a bad relationship – you know it is time to go, but all you can remember is the good. Just don’t forget that you must think of the future you in five, ten, or twenty years and where that person will be and ask yourself if you are helping to get there.
Most importantly, don’t forget to leave on good terms. Although this first job wasn’t ideal, the connections you made are vital to that future you. Give two weeks notice, if possible, organize your materials for your replacement, write-up a brief overview of what is yet to be done, if needed, and make sure everyone knows how appreciative you are of the experience.
Even if you can’t see the effect, your next employer will see your experience in your attitude and confidence that only a first job will provide. Your first job helped to break you into the corporate world that you thought you knew and helped you to learn the dynamics of a full time employee. Say thank you.
*Kiley Herndon is a recent graduate of Southern Illinois University Edwardsville. She graduated with a degree in English and Applied Communication Studies. SIUE prepared Kiley to take on a job at Madison County Transit and then transition to her current role at the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of St. Louis. Her biggest accomplishment is securing a job post-college and moving into her first apartment in the city.