Your first real job is always intimidating. You’ve been learning your whole life in formal education and now you go from learning to actually doing. I want to share the 3 biggest things I've learned from doing.
1. Communication is key
This is true in any environment of two or more humans. If you’re setting out to achieve a goal, communication can make or break that goal. Expectations should be set up and you should repeat back those expectations to be 100% clear.
When looking for a job, one of the biggest things I look for in the culture of a company is: are asking questions frowned upon? If they are then the culture will be made up of assumptions and that’s a breeding ground for chaos.
Make sure you’re clear on everything. Remember that asking a seemingly dumb question now might save you from a costly mistake later.
2. Know Thyself - Socrates
The second thing I learned is that the better you know yourself the more likely you are to succeed. Know how you operate best. Do you perform better working at home or in the office, with or without a team, standing up or sitting down, between the hours of 9-5 or 5-12? Obviously you might not be able to control some of this, but in your given situation what are some things you can tweak to perform at your best.
If you don’t know yet, experiment with different environments until you do. Optimize everything around you so you can perform at your best for the benefit of yourself and your company.
3. Just Do it
The last thing I would say is there will be a ton of things you don’t enjoy doing, at your job and just in life. The thing that separates the successful from the mediocre is the successful recognize they don’t want to do the hard thing in front of them, but they do anyway.
Both don’t want to go to work that day. The successful know that showing up is half the battle. The mediocre call in sick.
Both don’t want to go to the gym that day. The successful show-up, the mediocre make excuses.
Both don’t want to take on the company project. The successful speak up and take charge because they know this could push them forward in their career. The mediocre are content with doing the minimum to keep their job, they remain silent.
Some parting thoughts I would add are if you’re in your 20s realize that you probably won’t be at your current job in 5-10 years. The way the market is going is leading more and more people to job hopping (which actually leads to on average 30% higher pay). You might not enjoy your first job, but just make sure that when you move on you left the company better than you found it. Be proud of your time there and make the most of it. You just started some of the most exciting times of your life.