8 things you learn in your first year of work

first year

Joining the workforce is a wonderful and terrifying thing. The times when we mess up are the most memorable and formative of our lives, but it is the things that we learn and take away from these experiences that really matter.

Here are eight things which you will undoubtedly learn in your first year out of education and in the workplace – take a look, and get a head start on your friends by avoiding the most obvious of mistakes.

1) Getting up at 6:30 am every day is hard, but you can do it

You thought it was tricky getting up for that 9 am lecture? You’ll soon discover that early mornings are much easier when you have no option, and when you have the threat of probation hanging over your head.

2) You did not work as hard as you could have worked at university

Once you’re actually solidly working between the hours of 9am and 5pm, you’ll realize just how much time you spent procrastinating and not working at Uni – and that’s okay.

University is a balance of fun, trying out new things and working. You’ll soon find out that working life is slightly harder to balance.

3) Bosses can be mean, and you can’t be rude back

Despite all unions, tribunals and protests against unfair work practice you may have heard of, you’ll soon discover that lots of people who work in offices are just downright mean. You will, most likely, have a boss that you can’t stand (and that can’t stand you) at some point in your career.

Of course, anything untoward or particularly nasty should be reported, but you’ll come to learn that office bitchiness is just part of the lifestyle.

4) You need to slog away at work you don’t like

Everyone will tell you that you will have to work in jobs you don’t like to reach your dream job – what they won’t tell you is that these jobs will often feel pointless, like they’re leading you in the wrong direction, and aren’t helping you at all.

For example, how can 5 months of cold-calling on the sales frontier help prepare you for a career in law? But never fear, with time you will come to understand how formative and important these sorts of experiences are.

5) Caffeine addictions are easy to develop

The office environment is one often fraught will tensions, stress and, conversely, boredom. Whether you end up drinking coffee to get through that all-nighter to complete all your work or gulping down tea to pass the time, you’ll soon find yourself unable to crawl out of bed in the mornings without a strong dose of caffeine.

6) Going out on a work night is never a good idea

No matter what your colleagues tell you, or how enticing a particular club night is, you will never be able to function fully after an alcohol-fueled night-lacking sleep.

7) Make sure you know and understand your contract

It is a foolhardy graduate who signs away their life to their first contract without reading the small print. Look at holiday, notice period whether reasons need to be given if they sack you.

You should never sign anything without reading it first, but this is especially important with an employment contract since it dominates such a large part of your life.

8) If your job makes you miserable you should leave it

This is a lesson that can take some time to learn and does, of course, come with a few caveats. As long as you can afford to leave and have a good prospect of getting employment elsewhere, you should leave a job if it has consistently made you miserable for a considerable period of time.

If you know there is light at the end of the tunnel in the form of a promotion or the like then stick it out, but if you can’t see the role progressing or going anywhere, search for employment elsewhere.


Alexandra Jane writes for Inspiring Interns, which specialises in sourcing candidates for internships and graduate jobs.

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