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5 Things You Should Learn at Your Entry-Level Job

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You’ve done it. You killed the application and got the job offer. Starting Monday, you will officially have joined the workplace. Entry-level jobs are the price every career person has to pay so it is easy to take it for granted and focus only on getting to work on time and staying out of trouble. But your first job could be the launching pad for a great career and life if you pay attention and go beyond ‘paying your dues’. Here are 5 lessons all entry-level career people should learn from their first job.

1. How to ask for help

It is a brand-new world. Everything from email etiquette to proposal templates will be new to you and no matter how quick a study you are, there is just some stuff you will not know. And reaching out to more experienced colleagues will save you a lot of time and frustration. Resist the need to seem competent and hyper-efficient on the first day or even the first week. Ask the person closest in experience to you if you are too worried about asking your supervisor but ask for the help you need to do a good job.

2. How to solve problems

The problems that no one wants to deal with tend to trickle down to the entry-level employees and it becomes their responsibility to figure out the problem. For example, say you work for a law firm and one of the senior advocates needs a file for a case she is working on but the file is nowhere to be found. It will be up to one of the legal clerks to track down the lost file and have it available before the case is heard in court. This could mean going through thousands of the firm’s records and doing it within a strict deadline.

The task itself is stressful and the probability of failure is high but if the clerk works out a system for going through the files in very little time and does their due diligence in trying to track down the file, they will attract the notice of a senior advocate by solving a problem and making their boss’s life much easier. 

3. How to work with a diverse group of people

Unlike university or college, workplaces do not tend to attract similar people. Psychology majors tend to have the same outlook and are driving towards the same goals, the same cannot be said for coworkers. To thrive in your career, you must learn to work with people and treat them with respect. Effective communication is perhaps the single most important skill a leader can have and there is n better time to build up that muscle than at your first job. Everyone loves the new guy/girl after all. 

4. How to keep showing up

You will have a bad day. One of those days that feels like the devil is at your heels and you cannot do anything right. After a day like that it might seem infinitely simpler to just quit your job; they’re not paying you much anyway. It could be that you fumbled on a project, or you have the supervisor from hell or that you simply are not sure that this is the path for you. And on days like this, you simply need to lift your chin, take a shower and be at the office before 9. It will not be pleasant but it will be worth it. 

5. How to find what you can offer and then do it

Don’t wait for a mentor to descend from the sky and start you on the path to growth. Don’t blame your boss for your lack of progress in the company. When you wait for those above you to push you, you prove that you lack the drive it takes to move up in the organization without someone always clearing the way for you. Once people know you are willing to work outside your set role, they will trust you more. Chances are that you will get more opportunities than if you had simply waited for tasks to land on your desk.

Joy Matiri

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