The 5 Lessons You Will Learn From Your First Job

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You’ve been waiting for weeks to get a call back from an employer and the fateful day has finally arrived. “You’re hired,” a company representative says to you over the phone. After a grueling three-interview process and lots of practicing in the mirror, you managed to impress your interviewers enough for them to take a chance on you. You did it. The hard part’s over now, right?

Unfortunately, no, it’s not. In fact, the hard part’s just beginning. No matter what industry you’re in, taking your first steps into the world of professional work can be incredibly daunting. Most likely, you’ll get your first big break after you graduate, which means the entire time leading up to that point, you’d have always been just a student. While there are a lot of similarities between student life and professional life, there are definitely some major differences. Here are 5 lessons you’ll learn from your first job:

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#1 The job description isn’t everything

Sometimes when you apply for a certain job, you may get intimidated by the fact that you don’t possess everything that the job description is asking for. But it’s important to not be discouraged if you don’t hit all of the boxes—employers typically use the job description as a template to guide their employees. The items listed in a job description are just a general overview of what the employer expects of you. That said, they aren’t expecting perfection—in fact, a good employer knows that the best candidates are the ones who show the most promise for professional growth. If you applied to a job that you felt you weren’t 100% qualified for, but you still got hired, there must have been a valid reason for that.

#2 Proven skills over credentials

Showing what you can do will always be more impressive than any accolade listed on your resume. Sure, you may look perfect on paper—you may have been the class valedictorian or your degree may have come from a top university, but how well do you perform in the workplace? Credentials give an employer an idea of your work ethic and personality, but the only way they can truly find out how effective you are as a worker is if you prove it to them. That’s why it’s so important to keep cultivating your skills. Always aim for self-improvement.

#3 Failure is inevitable

When you first start out, you’re going to be eager to do well. In the pursuit of excellence, you may develop a perfectionist mentality that will have you trying to avoid making errors of any sort. But no matter how hard you try, you will fail at some point. If someone claims they’ve never made a mistake in their career, they’re either definitely lying or a robot. Mistakes are essential for success. It’s how you come back from them that determines your worthiness.

#4 Details are everything

If you’ve never been one to pay attention to the details, now’s a good time to start. In the workplace, details are everything. Being detail-oriented will not only help you avoid making errors, but it will also help you on a social level in terms of your reputation in the office. You’ll identify areas of improvement in your work. You’ll notice professional cues from your colleagues better. It’s a skill that is improved with regular practice and, once mastered, it will make you a reliable member of your team.

#5 You matter

You may be the newest hire in the company or the youngest member of your team, but that doesn’t mean your input isn’t valid. Age or time spent at the company is irrelevant—you are a part of the team now, which means your contributions to the work are just as important and necessary as those of someone more senior than you. Part of the experience is learning how to build self-confidence. There will be times when you will be asked to speak or make recommendations about certain issues, so it’s important to get past whatever reservations you may have and just go for it.

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