Are you at school or university and need a job while you study? With a difficult economy and the pressure of needing to earn money, you may not find your dream job right away. So how important is it to land an impressive first job?
It doesn’t matter what your first job is, but ideally you should look job related to your desired career. This allows you to build your work experience, prove your worth and get some great references. This gives you an advantage over other school leavers and university graduates since you have built employment relevance before you even finish your studies.
Why is your first job important?
It doesn’t matter what your first job is, but the most important thing about your first job is the work experiences that you get from it. While any job that you do while studying will give you good experience, a related field can help you build more powerful employment relevance before you even finish your studies.
You will have many more jobs and experiences with different companies in the future but your first job is the first official proof of what you can do. This is why landing a solid first job is very important to your growth and career. So, look for a job that provides good opportunities to learn and develop
You might be asking, how closely related does my first job need to be? As long as the job will give you skills that are transferable to your prospective career path. Relevant experience doesn’t mean you need to worked in the same exact industry.
Any job will give you relevant experience to some degree, but if you choose a first job that will give you more transferrable skills you’re going to be better off. If you are moving into a customer service career, chose a first job where you need to speak with customers.
For instance, if you want to work in hospitality, a waiter may be a good choice for a first job, or a kitchen hand if you want to pave the way to becoming a cook. But if you want to work fields like the health industry, information technology or a legal firm try and find a job with more closely related duties to your career aspirations to give you an advantage over your competition.
The Importance of Work Experience
The prestige of a company name can be important. But what is most important is what you learn from your experience. It may be more beneficial to have your first job be from a smaller company with more responsibilities. That way, you can have work experiences to draw on in the future. If you chose to work at a large company doing basic tasks with little responsibility, it might be harder to prove your abilities. This may delay or inhibit career growth if you get ‘pigeon holed’ into lower level tasks as people may assume this is all you are capable of.
Experience is extremely valuable when it comes to getting jobs at any part of your career. Employers are always looking to see what you have learned when you apply for a new job. The more you have learned that can be used for the new job, the more employment relevance you have and the more desirable you become as an applicant. If you come with valuable experience, they don’t need to train you on basic tasks. You can even bring new ideas to help make their company better. When selecting a first job, focus on the value of what you can learn.
Is it good to work and study at the same time?
While working can be distracting to your studies, it is important to view the end goal. A brilliant academic result on paper alone, is only one step toward a prospective career. If you can find enough time for a part time job, this experience will give you an advantage over other school or university graduates that don’t yet have work experience.
The most important thing is to work out the right balance. Even if you can just do 10 hours a week, there are employers out there who are looking for just a little bit of help each week. But don’t take on full time hours and then flunk out of school, that is going to do more damage to your future career than good.
For instance, Zoe was at University, when she approached local dental surgeries in her first year with her resume and secured a 10 hour a week job sterilising the dental instruments. In her 3rd year, she resigned from this job and took on 15 hours a week job in the University Human Resources Department as an Assistant. By the time she had finished her undergraduate degrees, she had two extremely professional jobs under her belt. With that she had extremely respectable references from both, and a wealth of related employment experience to talk about. Over 800 people applied for the graduate position in a Government Department that Zoe applied for, and she was one of the 16 who got the job… trust me experience counts.
Your First Job Starts Your Professional Network
People always say that your career not always about ‘what you know’ but also about ‘who you know’. Whether this is working out the best way to get a task done, or even reaching out and finding opportunities for career progression.
Your first job will be the first time you are working with other adults in a professional setting. That is why it is important to choose a job where the people are well respected in the field you are looking to start a career.
Your co-workers will become the people you spend time and work with. So it is important to put your best foot forward at all times. You will want to impress your boss and your co-workers so that they can recommend you in the future as a capable, intelligent employee. By networking at your first job, you will meet valuable contacts that can help you obtain career progression and high-paying jobs in the future. This is called building your professional network, or networking.
Hold Out In the Face of Pressure
You may feel the pressure to get a job right after college. It may feel like your life isn’t going anywhere. You may need the money, or you may feel like you’re not as successful as your friends who immediately found jobs. Stick with your guns, keep trying, and know that you hold the power of a successful career in your hands.