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15 Things You Learn The Hard Way At Your First Job

15 Things You Learn The Hard Way At Your First Job


You just started your first job, you got your first paycheck and things are exciting. If you’re working in an office and you’ve seen The Office, then you hope your life will be as entertaining as that, and if you got a job in retail, then you can’t wait for all the discounts! 40% off? Yes please!

At the interview, they tell you everything you need to know: the working hours, vacation policy, who your manager will be, company perks and the list can go on and on. However, there are a couple things that you might have to learn the hard way, on your own, like office politics, or that sometimes it’s about results, not the effort that you put in.

One thing I’ll tell you is, always read your contract word for word. The second thing is, don’t worry about making mistakes; don’t be careless either, but everyone makes mistakes (check out Oscars drama, Miss Universe screw up and the oh so many news anchor fails!) The point is, it’s not about the mistake you make as much as how you handle the aftermath. Admit it, apologize and fix it, never run away from it.

We are here to share the 15 things you will learn the hard way at your first job!

15. Some Things You Should Just Keep To Yourself


It is very easy to have an argument with a coworker and vent about it to the entire office. Stop and please think how awkward that will make things the next day or if it’s brought up in front of that coworker. I would suggest also refraining from sharing any super personal stories, drunken nights with friends, stories about exes and one night stands or anything else that could incriminate you, and definitely don’t share anything about a possible job search you are going through. If you couldn’t keep your own secret, why would you expect anyone else to? It is helpful to always have a journal, if you really need to vent.

14. The Right Person Won’t Always Be Promoted


We are taught that if you do good things you get rewarded. Sadly, you’ll see that sometimes the person with the worst attitude, or the most incompetent person, is the one who will get promoted. As you’re reading this you’re probably thinking of that person. Is it right? No! Does it happen often? Yes! There are numerous reasons why this can happen. It could be nepotism, it could be that the manager isn’t a good judge of character, it could be that this employee is just really good at creating an image to fool everyone around them. In any case, it is probably one of the most demotivating things that could happen.

13. Your Boss Could Be The Most Clueless Person In The Office


You will truly understand the phrase “People don’t quit their jobs, they quit their bosses” when you meet the first manager who drives you away. Remember what we said about the wrong people being promoted? That person could very easily end up being your boss. Sadly, you could love your job and the people you work with, but if the person you report to is making your life a living hell, you might end up quitting. Obviously make sure that quitting is the last resort, but it could happen. Make sure you have exhausted every option. If the manager has just been promoted, give him or her an adjusting period, they could just be uncomfortable in their new seat!

12. You Won’t Get Recognition For Working Late, But Leaving On Time Or A Minute Early Can Be Frowned Upon


Your coworkers won’t line up to clap for you if you stay late to work. Heck, Brenda might even get promoted and she’s the one who leaves at 5:01 every day! Sadly, some people learn to play the game. They’ll do “overtime”, and by that I mean stay after 5pm so it looks like they’re the last ones to leave, and instead surf the internet. Another trick you learn is to work a lot slower during the day, because unfortunately sometimes when you are too efficient managers can see it as “you don’t have enough on your plate” OR “your targets aren’t high enough.”

11. Not Everyone Is Going To Like You


You may have been the life of the party in university, but this is no party. Not everyone is going to like you and you have to be ok with that, you can’t be walking around expecting to please people so you can make them happy. Don’t wait for anyone to validate who you are, be confident enough to know that you won’t be everyone’s cup of tea, and sometimes that has nothing to do with you. If the entire office doesn’t like you, I would do a little soul searching and start wondering if I’m actually a jerk though.

10. Bad Things Can Happen At The Office Christmas Party


For some reason, when people go to the Christmas party, they forget that they’re going to have to face all their coworkers on Monday, and that people remember drama and stupidity. Maybe it’s the magic sauce, but usually at office parties, people are showing their true colours. Please remember that people talk, they have camera phones, and stories live on forever thanks to the magic of the internet. The last thing you want is to be known as the guy who got drunk and declared his love for Suzie the secretary. One thing we know for sure – you are guaranteed a fun story at the Christmas Party!

9. You Need To Leave Your Personal Problems At The Door


We all have bad days, and personal problems that should not be dragged with us to work. I totally get it, it’s easier said than done. It’s not easy to just switch it all off and focus on your targets or goals for the quarter but that’s exactly what you need to do. If you need time off, you can always take a personal day to get your life together. Sometimes work can actually be a great distraction. The last thing you need is for your work to be affected, especially for an issue that will be resolved eventually.

8. Some Meetings Are Just Freaking Boring


One of the most painful things you’ll have to deal with is being asked to be in meetings you have no business attending. Even worse! Some of these 1 hour long meetings can very easily be summed up in one e-mail. The sad thing is, there is no way to entertain yourself; you can’t have your phone visible because that’s rude, and you can’t walk out, because that’s not very socially acceptable, so you just sit there and slowly die inside. The “productive meeting” you had just completely slowed down your day and drained all your energy.

7. Always Get Things In Writing


This is one we all learned the hard way for sure. Jack, your coworker, makes a verbal request and instead of asking them to send an e-mail you just do it, because that seems like the logical thing to do. What if Jack later on comes to complain how he never made that request? It becomes your word against his. Make sure you get everything in writing, especially from your managers! If you are ordering supplies for the office, it is a great way for you to keep inventory as well.

6. No One Will Hold Your Hand


Google will be your best friend (if it hasn’t been already!). The fun (or horrifying) part of a new job, especially your first job, is learning a lot of things you didn’t learn in school. Most of the time “I don’t know how” is not an acceptable answer. You can definitely ask a colleague for help (and if you’re lucky you’ll have that awesome colleague to guide you), but using Google is definitely your best bet. Don’t worry about knowing EVERYTHING, that would be boring. Enjoy the challenge and the journey. There’s a lot you probably won’t know.

5. You Should Never Burn Bridges!


You might get the urge to rage quit and just walk away, but please don’t. You might think, “Well I don’t need them, I can get a better job! I am never going to see these people again anyway!” Guess what, word travels fast! Your reputation is everything and think about how many times you actually said, “wow, small world!” You are always on that bridge. It is always best to leave on a good note. Chances are, after you calm down, it’ll all blow over anyway. Learn to pick your battles, manage expectations and control your emotions.

4. Emotional Control Is Everything


Frustrating things will happen more often than you would like them to, and if you’re a control freak, you might have mini heart attacks because there SO many things you can’t control. The only thing you can control is your reaction. One does not simple flip tables and walk away! (I bet you’re imaging the Lord of the Rings meme right about now). If something really frustrates you, it’s ok to go take a walk. Make sure you never have a meeting while you’re an emotional wreck, you’ll end up sayings things you regret. The last thing you want to be known as is ‘the office cryer.’

3. How To Have Thick Skin


You learn how to respectfully disagree, how to say no, and how not to take criticism personally. Most of us start in the workforce thinking, “I’m so thankful for this job! I hope they don’t fire me!” What most people don’t know is that it is really hard to find a good employee and you don’t need to be walking around on eggshells; you don’t need to be rude either though. You first job could be a learning experience both professionally and personally. You also learn that sometimes things are just not going to go your way, you can’t freak out every single time that happens.

2. It Might Not Last As Long As You Want It To


Obviously it’s not fun to job hop, and it doesn’t look that good on your resume either. However, I think it’s safe to say that you probably won’t be at your first job for years to come. The most dangerous thing people can do is get way too comfortable at a job and stay there for years, knowing that this isn’t the right move for their career. Jobs are like relationships, if you start convincing yourself why you should stay, you’re probably not as happy as you could be. Don’t be afraid to get out there!

1. Your First Salary Might Be Disappointing


You may have lived at home comfortably, but as soon as you live on your own you might need to start budgeting. Suddenly you realize how expensive everything is, that getting mail means more bills, and you can’t be eating out every night or shopping like you used to when you lived with Mom and Dad. Your first salary may be disappointing, but we’ve all been there. You’re not the first one to freak out about bills or plan your expenses so changing the winter tires would fall on your next Visa bill, not this one. Relax, work hard, be smart with your expenses, and you’ll get to where you want to be.


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