I wish someone had shared with me these few truths when I was first starting out:
- Your first job isn’t your last job (even though it might feel like it).
- It’s not about what you do but who you work with that matters. If you don’t end up liking the people then you’ll also hate your work. But… if you like who you work with then you can manage the elements of the work that aren’t super-fantastic.
- See #2 and begin to understand that it is the who that’ll advance your career, much less the what.
- Be amazing at a few things instead of mediocre at a lot. College and education teaches the latter so you must develop the former.
- You must make a decision at some point to be in charge of your own career instead of letting others determine it. And, you have more control than you may be willing to believe.
- Courage amounts for 99% of your career.
- Getting fired isn’t the end of the world (it’s happened more than a handful of times). You’ll live, recover, and thrive.
- Learning to create and manage boundaries is everything.
- Saying “No” is one of the most powerful answers in the world as well as the most frightening.
- Your gut has a lot to say about your career but your head will mess it up a lot.
When I hit 10 I realized that I hadn’t even directly addressed the original question… so I’ve added it here:
My first job out of college was terrible – it lasted 87 days and I experienced my first firing. A few months later I would be fired from my second job. At the time, I couldn’t have felt more defeated. I was recently married (just out of college) and a few months later we’d be pregnant with our first.
To hold on I got a job at Kinkos working for $7 an hour copying things for customers and helping them use the onsite fax machine. I couldn’t believe what I had become and felt like an absolute failure. My wife had also decided not to keep working since pregnancy was really hard on her so we were down to one very small income facing an increasingly-growing level of financial responsibility.
I decided to move my pregnant wife across the country to live with my parents where we started our new family above my parent’s garage. That was all in the first year after graduating college!
But, I didn’t quit and I kept on moving forward.