I still remember the excitement, nervousness, and anxiety that accompanied me on my first day of work. And I don't mean my first internship or my first day volunteering somewhere -- I mean my first "big girl" adult job. There's something really daunting about knowing that you have to be somewhere from 9-5 for an extended amount of time. (Tip #1: It's recommended that you stay at your first job for at least a year!)
Did I mention how uncomfortable it is being the new person? So many thoughts ran through my mind the night before. Who will I eat lunch with? Will people be nice? What if I don't find anyone that I connect with? Will my manager be cool?
It's an emotional journey.
It's an exciting journey.
It's your first taste of adulthood.
Here are three things that I wish I would've told myself before the big day.
1. It's going to be awkward...but it will also All Be OK
I'll be honest, it sucks being the new kid. Like... a lot. You feel awkward, extra self-conscious, and completely out of place. But don't let this stop you! Time fixes most things and it will here too. One of the most important things to remember is that even though you feel uncomfortable, you should still speak up. Schedule meetings with your manager, get coffee with a coworker, eat lunch at the group table and watch as it slowly gets better.
The best part about having a new job is the amount of information and knowledge that you're about to gain. It might feel stressful at first, but ask questions, raise your hand, and let your manager or coworker know if you're feeling lost. They are there to support you and help facilitate your growth.
I know that it also feels a bit strange to speak up about any ideas or suggestions you may have during your first few weeks. However, I encourage you to do so. If you're invited to a meeting and you feel that you have something valuable to contribute, don't hesitate to do so. This doesn't mean that you have to do it during the meeting. If you feel more comfortable messaging or speaking to your manager, one-to-one after, you should. Show them that you are already starting to brainstorm campaigns and ideas for the company. Show them your eagerness to learn.
2. You're probably going to hate it at first...but let it grow on you
Raise your hand if you like waking up at 7:30 A.M. every day. Yeah... that's what I thought. Unless you're already a morning person, waking up at 7:30 A.M. sounds terrible. This is one of the first things that you're going to have to get used to and get used to quick. There are no more classes for you to skip or breaks between lectures.
Waking up at the crack of dawn was already enough to make me dread my first job...but there's more. When you're in school, people tell you to work hard to land your dream job...or something that will help you get there. But no one ever tells you that every job has tedious tasks. Every job has its pros AND its cons. This hits even harder to home when you're like me and had no idea what you wanted to do with yourself after graduation.
The truth is, you're probably not going to like your new job that much. Or at least not at first. It's difficult to adjust to working full time. 40 hours is a lot to take on! The first few months of a job can also be extremely tedious as you are still learning the ropes and trying to find where you belong.
Be patient and look for learning opportunities that you know that you'd enjoy. This goes back to my first point: speak up. Be vocal about where you want to grow and what areas of the industry that you want to learn. Your manager won't know what you're interested in if you don't tell them. Open yourself up to new experiences and try to see the positive in the tasks that are tedious. They might be teaching you bigger lessons like time management, organization, and more.
3. Learn your rights
This is something that I really wish they would teach us in school. Employees have a wide range of rights that protect them. Like, there is a law that regulates how much time a worker is required to receive for lunch and breaks. Workers also have the right to work in a safe environment, workers compensation, a minimum wage and much much more.
Prior to starting your first job, I would do a bit of research and find out what rights you have and learn more about the ones that you didn't know you had. These could come in handy and protect you if anything were to happen to you while you're doing your job. Knowledge is power, so get in the know!
If there are any laws or regulations that you're confused about, speak to your human resources department. They should provide you the guidance you're looking for.
Starting your first adult job ever is scary, but it is also a huge accomplishment. Don't forget to look back on all that you've done in order to get to where you are now. Enjoy your first job, ask a lot of questions, hang out with your coworkers, and learn as much as you can. This is the first day of a new journey! Enjoy the ride, even if it comes with obstacles, bumps, and bruises. There is always a silver lining, you just have to find it.