A no-nonsense guide to finding your first job
A toss of a hat, a group photo, an embarrassing walk across a stage in front of a few hundred people, and it’s over.
You enjoyed your degree, but you aren’t sure you want to go into the same field. You see your friends getting into grad schemes and finding their way into well-paying jobs. You want to work but you’re not sure where you’ll fit in or what you want to do.
You’re stuck. It’s not uncommon.
But how do you unstick yourself?
Simple. Through reflection.
Let me explain…
We’ve helped thousands of grads, just like yourself, get the job of their dreams. Sometimes it’s has been in their field of study, other times it was in industries they had never even considered but ended up thriving in.
Finding your first job can be a daunting experience. There is so much choice it’s hard to know which job is the “right” one.
Worry not, there is light at the end of the tunnel. You just have to ponder three simple questions;
1. What are you good at?
2. What would you enjoy / interests you?
3. What work environment would you like / not like?
Grads, such as yourself, often get too caught up in finding the perfect job first time. It’s not impossible, and I am not saying settle, but If you’re unsure about what you want to do or are dead-set on getting into a specific field through the front door, you’re always going to make things unnecessarily harder for yourself.
Every job you do provides you with the opportunity to learn something that will help you make a more informed decision next time (providing you learn from your mistakes). You can afford to take the and interview for a role in an industry you’ve never thought of before. If it’s not for you, make a note of what you did and didn’t like and use this knowledge to help you find your next job.
Now, let’s break down these questions!
What are you good at?
The best way to approach this question is by asking yourself “What do excel at?” Think back to things you picked up easily. Did you do well in your written university assignments? Or did you do better in presentations? Perhaps you organised some events for your universities societies that went down really well?
Whatever it was may hold the secrets to what job or career may be best suited to you.
Author of How to Win Big and Fail, Scott Adams, coined the term ‘talent stack’. A talent stack is a set of skills that you are in the top 10%-20% for. Combined, these skills are what make you stand out from a crowd.
Take Adams, creator of the world-famous Dilbert cartoons. In his book he explains how he wasn’t the most gifted artist or writer, but all his years spent in a corporate environment, mixed with his ability to come up with witty lines, allowed him to produce something unique in the Dilbert cartoon series.
It was his combination of skills that gave him the edge.
Don’t be shy when looking for answers, ask friends and family. These people see you in a different light than you see yourself and are usually a good place to start when it comes to answering these types of questions. Who knows, you may be good at something you never even knew you did well.
What do you want to do on a day-to-day basis?
You need to choose something that you’ll be able to do 5 times a week without going crazy. Sometimes the only way to know is by doing.
Do you enjoy interacting with people on a regular basis? Maybe an account executive position is right up your alley.
Maybe you prefer working with data and numbers? There may be a role in finance or computing with your name on it.
It’s also important to note that no job is filled with doing what you love all day. There will be moments where you may have to do mind-numbing administrative tasks or some other activity that wasn’t in your job description.
Welcome to work life.
What work environment would you like / not like?
As you’re going to be spending a fair bit of your time at work, it is important you’re in the right environment.
This questions requires you to think less about your role and more about your peers, management and working hours, as well as things such as your commute time and perks.
You need to ask yourself “What matters to me in a work place?”
Now, that may be hard considering this may be your first job, but for the most part work can be split into two categories.
Social and Professional
The social aspect entails quarterly team lunches, drinks every Friday, ping pong table, free breakfast, team building exercises and the rest.
The professional aspect has to do with structure, progression, and your career.
Maybe you care more about the professional aspect. You want a job that will give you the best career prospects long term. You want structure, training and a set career path.
Or your more socially inclined. You want a relaxed culture with not too much responsibility and an emphasis on fun.
Whichever way you lean, you need to find the company culture that best supports that.
Many companies nowadays are getting better at providing both. That said, beware of company’s touting free breakfasts and ping pong tables as a selling point, they don’t matter half as much as you think.
A company can have all the free breakfasts they like, but if their employees aren’t happy or don’t feel respected, it isn’t going to be a fun environment to work in.
Picking your first job isn’t easy, but you shouldn’t make it more complicated by overthinking it. This means taking interviews even if you’re not 100% about a job but like the sound of it and looking into areas you’ve never considered.
You may not get it right the first time, but you need to remember that finding the right job takes time. You’re going to kiss a few frogs in the process, but ultimately, you’ll get there.
Remember, your first job will not be your last!
Till next time,
This article was written by Inspiring Interns’ own Account Manager, Adrian Asuquo