When searching for your first job, there are likely a lot of life changes on the horizon; your educational career is likely coming to an end (for now) which means “real life” is rapidly approaching, you might have to pack up your things and move for the job and you’re starting the “first day of the rest of your life.” With the added pressures that come with the territory, finding a landing spot to begin your career is a huge decision.
For a first job, you are likely looking for opportunities that tie your interests with your major. However, according to a Federal Reserve Bank of New York study, only 27 percent of college graduates have a job related to their major. While this might be disheartening, it shouldn’t be. This could just mean that just many jobs don’t really require a specific field of study. For example, while an accounting major will likely land a job in the accounting industry, a communications major may find a job in business development, public relations, sales, etc.
Not only are you looking for relevant opportunities to begin your career, but you might be holding out for the “perfect” opportunity. The truth is, for most Millennials, their first job will not be their dream job. Although everyone wants the perfect first job, getting caught up on trying to find it can be a slippery slope. It causes job seekers to focus on the wrong things. Having your first job not be the dream job can be a tough pill to swallow, but it is important to make the most out of the opportunity.
Build Your Skills
While it might be tough to find the motivation to go to the office every day when you aren’t exactly passionate about the work, it is important to have a long-term view on the opportunity in front of you. The skills you learn and continue to build upon in this role will benefit you down the line.
This first job can set the precedent for the rest of your career, so view it as a learning opportunity. What do you like about the job? What do you dislike? By identifying these preferences, you will have a better idea of what you want and value in a future role. You can also test the limits of your comfort zone and truly figure out what you want in your career. When you begin to think of your first job as a learning experience and the starting point of your career, it becomes easier to get motivated to go to the office every day.
Build Your Brand
Personal branding is a hot topic in today’s society. It goes beyond your appearance and values; it could be the difference between getting a job offer and getting tossed aside. With social media, building your personal brand has become easier than ever. While your brand has become easier to build, it is just as easy, if not easier, to ruin your reputation thanks to social media. This is a difficult balance to manage, but with some experience it can become easier.
One way to build your brand in your first job, according to Molinsky, is to do the work that no one else will. For example, “you’ll notice that people will often mention an idea at a meeting – for additional research or data collection – but no one necessarily raises their hand to do the extra work.” By volunteering for this, it will show your employer that you are reliable and a key contributor to the team. Your reputation follows you from job to job, so by starting its development in your first role will pay off later on.
Build Your Network
The importance of networking is stressed when looking for a job and early on in your career, but once you get started, networking shouldn’t take a back seat. Take the time in your first job to continuously build your network, as you never know where the connections and relationships you establish could lead.
It is no secret that networking can be awkward for even the most experienced professionals. Luckily, we have some tips regardless of how experienced of a networker you are. Check them out:
- Networking Tips For Recent Grads
- Effective Networking Crash Course
- Networking 101: Tips and Mistakes To Avoid
- Improving Your (Social) Networking Skills
Not only could the connections you make lead to future opportunities, but they also provide you a window to see what else is out there in terms of career.
Many soon-to-be or recent graduates looking for their first job tend to take whatever opportunity they can to get their career started. While it likely isn’t a dream job, that doesn’t mean it is a wasted opportunity; in fact it is quite the opposite. Your first job can be a springboard to the rest of your career, but only if you make the most out of the opportunity. Three important things to do in your first role are: build your skills, build your brand and build your network. In doing these three things, you can make the most out of your first job, even if it isn’t exactly your dream job.