You probably won’t be in love with your first job. That’s just the way it is. But you need to stick it out for a little, so here are some strategies to help you do that.
So you passed the interview with flying colors. The paperwork has been signed, sealed and delivered. Now you’re officially an employee.
But the glow of the new job will soon wear off. While your first instinct may be to quit, you need to stay put.
For most people, a first job is a necessary growing pain. Give yourself time to adjust to the new position.
Not only does quitting too soon (like 3-4 months) look bad on a resume, but it’s totally chickening out. In the long run, overcoming these challenges will make you a better candidate for future jobs. Some of the worst jobs are the best learning experiences. (Yes, that cliche is true.) So stick it out at least until you figure out your next move.
Here are some tips that’ll see you through the entry-level grind:
Make no mistake; you’re at the bottom of the totem pole. The good news is there is nowhere to go but up! You will probably be tasked with less than ideal work: creating mind-numbing spread sheets, sifting through an endless ream of documents, juggling Starbucks runs on behalf of the entire department.
Dealing with this change in status may difficult for the overachiever in you; but it’s important to reframe the situation. While your first job may not be your dream one, look at it as the first step towards achieving larger career goals. Take this opportunity to learn about the industry. Try it on for size to figure out whether it’s a field you could work in long-term.
Lose the sense of entitlement
Admit it, you feel like you’re above the tasks on the never-ending to-do list of tasks that your boss assigns you. Get over it. It’s your job, and at least you’re getting paid to do it — unlike that summer internship. In the long run, it’s the small tasks that yield the highest dividends. Offering to help and completing them will endear you to your supervisors. So chin up, Buttercup, and get back to that Power Point.
Oh office dramz
In many ways, your first job is like earning a graduate degree in office politics. Call yourself an anthropologist and start observing the group dynamics of those who co-exist in the working world.
Study the power structures that surround you. Unlike at school, you’re no longer surrounded by peers, you’re now interacting with bosses, co-workers and clients of different ages.
Don’t get involved; witness the power struggles and personality clashes. As you gain more experience on the job, learn how different people of all ages and temperaments work with each other.
Follow (or don’t follow) the leader
If your boss a , resist every urge to sabotage. Take the paid high road, and treat the relationship as a learning opportunity. Now, at least you know what not to do when you get the corner office – an invaluable skill that many higher ups forget.
You can pick up free lessons on management from observing how your supervisors interact with your coworkers. Does your boss encourage creativity and teamwork? How does your boss maintain open communication? What does your boss do to get results? What does he/she say to garner results?
Beware of brain atrophy
Sitting at a desk for eight hours can really do a number on your mind. The cause for your boredom and sudden brain atrophy can be blamed on your experiences in college. That’s right, the very thing that helped you land the job, is now the reason why you may be feeling conflicted about your job duties (or lack thereof).
College was all about constant learning. Everyday, your mind was fed a healthy diet of new ideas and concepts. You spent your days (and nights) debating the merits of microfinance. Post-grad, you’ll soon realize that most people in the real world don’t really care about saving the world. If all else fails, remember that a bad job is the best motivation for hunkering down and studying for the GREs or LSATs.
Use your free time wisely
The main perk of a 9-5 is that it’s only 9-5. After you put in your eight hours, you have time to pursue your own interests outside of work. No late night exam cramming sessions or 20 page papers. Take advantage of your free time to let go of on-the-job stress, fend off brain atrophy, and cultivate your interests. Take an improv class, start a book club, blog, anything to remind yourself of the fact that you are a person. Pursuing something you’re interested in will add balance and may lead you to .
This post was originally published under Vina L.’s full name, but she asked that it be removed.