Nothing can truly prepare a young adult for their first real job. It’s a rite of passage we all make from young adulthood to adulthood, but the transition will go more smoothly if you know what to expect from yourself and others. Being clear about what kind of job you want to go after, managing finances, and understanding interpersonal skills at work are all learned skills, not things you necessarily inherently understand how to do.
Set your job search goals
According to Jen, a top therapist and life coach on JustAnswer, it’s important to set your goals beforehand. “Figure out if you’re just looking for a job that piques your interest and pays the bills while you figure out what you really want to do in life. If you have a clear idea of what you want to do for a career, then go full steam ahead and start pounding the pavement to get the position or job that you truly want. All things are easier once you figure out what your goals are.”
However if you are someone struggling to figure out which direction you want to go in life Jen recommends doing some work on your own or with a therapist to figure out what kind of work you want to pursue. As she suggests, “The clearer you are about what you want to go after, the less prone you are to stress, depression and apathy. I would say that the transition from school to work is a lot easier if you share your desires and struggles with loved ones to take some of the external pressure off. This big life change can be fraught with stress and the support of loved ones can help.”
Learn to your save money
It can be tempting to find new ways to spend your new hard-earned cash, but the earlier you learn to save instead of spend, the easier it will be to stay out of credit card debt, save for major life purchases like homes and cars, and retire comfortably. Retirement may feel like lifetimes away when you’re just starting out, but the habits you create early on will build toward a more stress-free future.
Consider incorporating the following habits into your financial management:
- Set aside even a small amount like $50 into your savings account each month
- Pack a lunch each day; that alone can save you between $1000 - $2000 each year
- Continue to live like a student at first. Don’t rush out and rent a nice apartment. Continue to live with roommates, as this helps keep your monthly spending down and provides you with some friendship outside of your job.
Work well with others
Many young workers are surprised to find that they are expected to work well as a team member, not just well at the tasks assigned to them. Good interpersonal skills can help you get a job, enjoy your work and advance in your career. You might have spent several hours alone perfecting a paper or project in school, but most office jobs will require you to know how to tactfully respond to emails, offer suggestions in meetings or know when to hold your thoughts and simply follow orders from a superior. Before you begin a job, do a little research on how to develop good interpersonal skills.
Expect longer hours, lower pay or no pay for a while
Because employers know that they will be paying you to learn new skills on the job, they will also typically expect you to work harder and for a smaller wage. Entry-level jobs or unpaid internships may sometimes feel dead-end, but as long as you’re working in a respectful work environment and can afford the lower wage or unpaid work for a while, it behooves you to stick it out and learn new skills, build up your work experience and make connections before you decide to move on.