Style My Soul Explores..
“Can you share some helpful lessons you learned from your very first job?”
You Can Learn from Everyone
At my very first job, I quickly realized that the best way to learn is to learn from everyone. I’ve often seen people restrict their learning only to skills and knowledge that are directly associated with their job profile. While this is certainly enough to keep a job, it isn’t necessarily the best way to grow. Observing what others were doing and trying to understand how their role fits into the overall workings of the firm gave me a broader perspective. I attribute this to the inquisitive nature of approaching anything to do with work. But thanks to this way of thinking, I soon understood more than was being taught to me.
-- Riley Beam, Managing Attorney, Douglas R. Beam, P.A.
Don’t Be Afraid to Ask Questions
Starting my first job, I tried to present myself as a specialist. I believed I should prove my qualifications and expertise in my job. As a result, I was afraid to ask questions since I thought it would show my unprofessionalism. However, many new situations pushed me to ask people for advice. I’ve learned it’s not a lack of professionalism; it’s an opportunity to grow. By asking questions, I’ve learned many fresh approaches and developed my career. -- Natalia Brzezinska, Marketing and Outreach Manager, PhotoAiD
Being Skilled Is Not Enough to Go to the Next Level
I learned from my first job that you are never evaluated based solely on your skill set. You might be certain that you will get a good score in your first performance evaluation just because you have the skills needed for the job. Yet, in reality, your abilities are just one part of it. I learned to make my presence felt. It helps if you speak up more during team meetings and constantly make other contributions to the team’s success. You simply can’t go to the next level only with your technical skills. Your communication and work attitude are just as important as your technical skills. -Tristan Harris, Demand Generation Sr. Marketing Manager, Thrive Agency
Always Have a Backup Plan
My very first job out of college was my dream job. I was a sports broadcaster and had gotten an amazing opportunity to cover one of my favorite sports teams for the home broadcasting company. I worked there for six years, and it was an incredible experience with plenty of memorable moments. Unfortunately, I was naïve and thought I’d have that job (and career) for the rest of my life. The company was bought out by FoxSports, and everyone lost their job, including me. I was devastated and had no backup plan. It took me a few months to land on my feet again. I swore to myself I’d never get burned again by being so naïve and thinking that business decisions beyond my control wouldn’t affect me. They do, and they will affect you too. Don’t be naïve like I was and get burned. Bad things can happen to you, so be prepared and have a plan if you were to lose your job. That way, if it happens, you aren’t left in shock trying to collect the pieces of your career. -- Seth Newman, Director, Sporting Smiles
Step Outside Your Comfort Zone
In my very first job as a sales agent, I quickly learned the value of listening and learning from those with more experience. Even though they did not directly relate it to my engineering background, I found every job has something to teach us if we’re open to learning. I discovered that the sales department could be a great place to grow and develop skills in marketing, so I followed the advice and studied the field. Through this experience, I gained a new perspective on being adaptable and open-minded in our careers. By being willing to step outside our comfort zones and learn new things, we can discover opportunities we might not have previously considered. I now have a unique combination of engineering and marketing skills, which has helped me to excel in my current role and better serve my clients. -- Luciano Colos, Founder and CEO, PitchGrade
Show Up to Work on Time
When I was fifteen, I started working at a local donut shop. Since I couldn’t drive, I relied on my mom for transportation. Thankfully, she always ensured I was on time — even though it was a weekend morning at seven a.m. (very early for a teenager). However, I was put straight to work when I arrived at the shop. I would fill donuts, put them in the case, check out customers, etc. I realized early on that people were relying on me to do my job. That meant being on time was critical in order to make the production run smoothly. I carry that lesson with me today. -- Kelli Anderson, Career Coach, Resume Seed
Be Accountable and Responsible
One lesson I learned from my first HR job in a startup was how quickly I learned the criticality of urgency and time, following instructions, and completing tasks to the best of my ability. This taught me tough lessons about being responsible and accountable, which have served me well throughout my career. -- Tony Deblauwe, VP, Human Resources, Celigo
Keep Company Needs in Mind
If you want to keep your job, think about the needs of the company. My first job was in a retail clothing store, and I was a high school student. I worked the summer and, when school was about to start up again, my manager sat down with me to chat about updating my availability for him to schedule my shifts. Since I knew I was going to school Monday through Friday, I figured I should say I was unavailable on Saturdays to give myself a break during the week. To my surprise, they let me go the next day. I don’t know why it didn’t occur to me that being unavailable on Saturdays would be very inconvenient for management. It taught me to operate with the company’s needs in mind if I really wanted to keep that job. -- Bridget Reed, Co-Founder and VP of Content, The Word Counter
Place Value in Innovation
My first job had little to do with technology and even less to do with innovation. Things were being done a certain way, and that’s how they stayed. I don’t know if it was my instinct at play or if it was only the refreshing take that new people usually have in an environment. Maybe it was my gaming abilities that were proactively seeking a new way out! But I soon thought of ways to change things. Some of these suggestions were accepted, and they turned some down, but what I learned here was how we can always do things differently. Over the years, I associated this realization with my work in innovation and technology, and that it has all worked out really well! -- Brendan McGreevy, Head of Strategy, Affinda
It hurts more when you spend your own money, in my opinion. Possibly the finest aspect of getting a job for the first time is the experience of having your own money. You will no longer depend on the kindness of your parents and will have funds to spend on whatever you like. Many people go on a buying binge when they receive their first job because of their excitement. But you will also learn how quickly your starter pay can be spent. Costs such as movie tickets and new clothing become much more tangible when they are converted into hours of labor. Working incurs a plethora of additional expenses, including meals, the cost of commuting, after-work socializing with coworkers (which may be especially exhausting if they earn far more than you), and new clothes so that you can be adequately attired for your position. Because spending money on items you don’t need hurts more when it’s your own salary, your first job is generally when you first learn how to budget efficiently. -- Alexandru Contes, Co-Founder, ReviewGrower
Soak Up Knowledge
My first proper job was as a digital marketer for a company that managed many affiliate comparison sites. At the time, I wasn’t really interested in the business, but I was determined to learn it, anyway. Like a sponge, I soaked up all the knowledge I could get from the company’s veterans and my supervisors. From placing simple targeted ads to talking to potential affiliates, I watched and learned everything. -- Jonathan Merry, Founder, Moneyzine
Taking the time to listen actively and attentively allowed me to understand what the customer wanted and provide them with a personalized experience. This lesson has carried over into other areas of my life, such as in personal relationships and during meetings in the workplace. By actively listening, I am better equipped to communicate effectively, understand others’ perspectives, and build stronger connections with those around me. This valuable lesson from my first job has helped me to become a better listener, communicator, and overall, a more empathetic and understanding person.
Sven Patzer, CEO, Sveny Corp.