When you walk into the office on the very first day of your very first job, a lot of questions will inevitably run through your mind. Will your colleagues be friendly? Will you be asked to do things you have no idea how to do? What if you make a mistake?
It can be hard to know what to expect as you make the transition from student to employee. While there are bound to be a few surprises, our article covers the key things you should know.
It won’t be perfect
Gone are the days of joining a company at 22 and retiring from the same firm 40 years later. But that’s fine, because your first job won’t be perfect.
You’re going to have to work hard and develop your career a bit before you land your dream job. Now is the time to gain as much experience as possible, not to stress about the little things that might be wrong with your current role.
There will be an adjustment period
The first few months in your first job are going to be hard. You’ll have to get used to a new schedule, which also means developing new routines for eating, sleeping and exercise. You won’t have as much free time as you used to during the week, so you’ll have to make good use of your weekends and evenings.
It will take time to adjust to all these changes, and you’ll have to make some compromises along the way. However, once you are finally settled, everything will start to get much easier.
Colleagues aren’t always friends
Where you used to be surrounded by your peers at school, university and elsewhere, your colleagues will all be of different ages and backgrounds, and it won’t be so easy to find people with common interests. You may be lonely at first, but you will make friends in time.
Remember to smile and introduce yourself to everyone you meet – and to memorise their names. Try to spend your breaks with your colleagues, and don’t shy away from opportunities to socialise such as after-work drinks.
You have to keep proving yourself
Yes, you got the job, but that doesn’t mean you’re going to be meeting clients or making important decisions on day one. Your manager saw potential in you during the application process, and now you’re going to have to live up to that.
Buckle down and demonstrate your work ethic. Show that you can act professionally, solve problems and make good decisions. Once your manager sees these skills, they will start giving you more responsibilities.
Mistakes are all right
You will make mistakes in your first job. Your manager will expect you to, especially early on – the important thing is how you handle them.
When you make a mistake, don’t try to hide it or make excuses. Your manager will respect you much more if you own up to it and do your best to learn from the experience.
You won’t have a high salary
Starting salaries in the UK are usually around £20,000 per year, although they can be closer to £23,000 in the surveying professions. After taxes, this works out at about £1,300 per month.
While you may feel that your various degrees, qualifications and awards entitle you to higher pay, that’s not the way the job market works. Once you put in the work and gain more experience, you’ll start to earn more.
You’ll have more expenses
Starting a new job is expensive, especially your very first one. You’ll have to buy suitable clothes, pay for travel and plan for meals. It might be a good idea to find ways to save as early as you can.
For instance, instead of spending £10 a day on lunch – which could add up to nearly £2,500 a year – bring a packed lunch instead. Once you know what your monthly salary is, plan a budget and stick to it.
It’s not all bad
While starting a new job comes with a lot of challenges, it’s also exciting. Don’t forget to enjoy what you’re doing as there are a lot of positives about starting a new role.
Remember that this is a big step towards achieving your dreams, and you never know what opportunities lie just around the corner.