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Best Advice for Your First Job

Updated: Mar 15

Starting a new job is both exciting and nerve-racking, especially if this is your first job out of college or first job in your field. For your first job, no one is expecting you to know everything and do everything right the first time. However, just because you may be inexperienced doesn’t mean you can’t make a good first impression or that there aren’t qualities you can bring to the table as someone who is less experienced. If you’re looking to put your best foot forward at your new job, check out these tips from some industry experts.

Set Boundaries for Yourself

“Something to keep in mind as you start your first job is the boundaries you need to set between yourself and your work. You know yourself best, and that means knowing how much work you can take on, how late you’re willing to work, what you need to say ‘no” to, and how much of your personal life you’re willing to share at work to stay healthy. Not only does this set an example of what you’re willing to do, but this also shows your coworkers and managers what they can expect from you and what boundaries they shouldn’t cross.”

- David Ring, Senior Marketing Manager at MCT Trading

Start Saving Right Away

“It's very important to create good habits when you first enter the workforce. If you're starting your first job, plan on moving a percentage of your first paycheck into a savings account, investments, or somewhere you can't access it unless there is an emergency. Creating this habit will make it easier to save and invest money for the rest of your life, and you will be a few steps ahead of most people in the workforce. Sometimes it'll be difficult, but it takes discipline and is worth it in the long run.”

- Kevin Mako, founder of Mako Design + Invent

Pursue Your Passions

“While your first job might not be your dream job, you can use it to learn what you like doing, and what you don’t like as much. Instead of feeling underqualified, think about your strengths and consider topics that you love to talk about. Having a clear sense of what you enjoy doing and what you’re good at will help you advocate for yourself in your first job, which will open the door to more opportunities! Don’t be afraid to connect with people you don’t know very well and see what you can learn from them. By keeping an open mind and a strong sense of yourself, you can use your first job to gain a better understanding of what you’re truly passionate about and follow that.”

- Jarrid Raney, Director of E-Commerce and Marketing at Shop Blends

Introduce Yourself

“Introducing yourself frequently and being personable at your first job is going to set you up for future success. When you’re the new person at the office, you don’t always want to draw attention to yourself. But finding some time to introduce yourself to others and make quick conversation can establish your position at the company and show your social skills from the start. Building these connections right off the bat can lead to long-term friendships and help to improve your networking skills so that you’re ready to meet other people you’re introduced to effortlessly. It’s important to do your best to remember names and take note of what people are saying to you to show you’re eager to meet new people and make a name for yourself at the company.”

- Sam Rogers, Outreach Manager for Ziebart

Ask Questions

“It’s difficult to initially ask questions, especially when you feel like you’re expected to already know something at your job. However, asking questions is a huge part of the onboarding process and getting adjusted to your new position. It’s best to take every opportunity to confirm details and make sure you’re doing the right thing to avoid mistakes in the future. Most of the time, your manager may even welcome asking questions so they know how they can help you be as successful as you can be in your first job.”

- Doug Crawford, Founder of Best Trade Schools

Be on Time

“While it may seem like a small gesture, it is a noticeable one. Being on time is integral, especially during the first three months of being at your new job. It shows that not only do you take your job seriously but that you also value the time of your colleagues who are depending on you. Over some time, your colleagues and the company will see just how respectful and responsible you are, which is always essential when building relationships in the workplace. Putting your best foot forward and making a good impression is crucial to surviving your first job, so tardiness is never unacceptable.”

- Hilary Kozak, VP of Marketing of LivSmooth

Always Be Willing To Learn

“One key piece of advice I could give anyone when they start their first job is to always be willing to learn from that job. No matter what position you are taking in any industry, that first job will be a key stepping stone for your future experiences in the workforce. That being said, you should always stay active in your first job and always be willing to learn anything that you think will be important for your future career skills. Even something as simple as doing customer service at the front register can be great practice and experience for future jobs. Some aspects of your first job may be very difficult to initially learn, so it’s also very important that you regularly ask for help whenever you don’t fully understand a process. Being willing to learn will not only improve your standing and career for your first job, but every other job you will have in the future.”

- Bill Lyons, CEO of Griffin Funding

Track Your Successes

“Consider tracking challenging tasks you complete and monitor your performance of things you work on so that you can have proof of your successes if you aspire to move up within your first company. Define what success looks like to you and clarify your expectations with yourself and your manager. It’s important to keep note of what you do and to think about the big picture and how your goal aligns with it. Be proactive and find ways to bring more value to what you do in your job. It’s one thing to succeed in your position but it is another thing to be able to prove that what you’ve been doing is working.”

- Daniel Kane, Founder of Ridge

Take Ownership of Your Career Path

“Your first job marks the start of an exciting journey, but it's important to remember that your career path is not solely dependent on others. While seeking guidance from others is natural, the reality is that your choices play a significant role in shaping your career. Not all organizations or managers will proactively guide your career, so it's important to set goals, meet milestones, and communicate your career aspirations. Remember, no one will care about your career as much as you do. Embrace a proactive approach and shape your career in a way that aligns with your goals and aspirations.”

-Rubens Basso, Chief Technology Officer, FieldRoutes

Communicate Regularly

“The most important aspect of starting a new job is properly establishing your presence within the company and what exactly is expected of you. That's why it's important to keep constant communication across all levels of the company you have access to. First, establish rapport with the coworkers in your department, as they are the ones who have direct hands-on experience with the tasks you'll be taking on. Having friendly relations with them right off the bat will make future communications easier. You should also regularly speak with your supervisors about the steps you're taking in your work when you first join the company. Asking questions, confirming responsibilities, and just generally keeping a constant back and forth with those overseeing your duties is the best way to ensure your transition into your role is as comfortable as possible.”

- Adrien Dissous, Global SVP of Marketing at Babo Botanicals

Do extra work without being asked

When you're starting out at a new job, it is important to follow directions but also do extra. Think out of the box in ways you can help your managers and your company. Talk to other people at your company and humbly ask them if there is anything your team can do to help them out. Always communicate with your boss as you find new projects you can work on in addition to your assignments. Try to understand the motivation of the management above you and work towards things to improve and help them. At the end of the day it is important that you are doing your best work and going above and beyond to help out those above you that you directly work with or have intersections with."

-Peter Reagan, Financial Marketing Strategist at Birch Gold Group

Your first job will truly be a definitive starting point in your career and is the best time to start thinking about your professional goals. Your first role in your career field will teach you so much and help get you to the point you want to be. Your first job can open up future opportunities so it is important to network, ask questions, and always be thinking big picture. With these tips, your first job can be the start of a successful professional career.

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