I found this article on the Stuff website today. The American question and answer website, Quora, asked its users what were the best things you learned in your first job? A few of the responses are summarised in the article, tying them into 8 lessons for how to succeed in the workplace and you can also go to the website directly to read the full list of comments.

While I don’t agree with every comment made there are certainly some excellent nuggets of wisdom we can all learn from. A lot of people commented on their first office job but some commented on earlier jobs, for example delivering newspapers. That was my first job too (I was 11 years old) and like the other users when I look back and reflect I can see that I learned a lot of skills and ways of thinking that I have used in every job since then.

I always talk to students about their transferrable skills which are skills that you develop from all areas of your life, including study that you can take from one job to the next. It’s so important to highlight these skills to employers, along with the examples of where you developed them from. First jobs are excellent ways to start developing those transferrable skills and become aware of the realities of the world of work.

So, what did I learn from my first job delivering newspapers that is still going to get me hired in my next job?

  • Discipline, stickability and a strong work ethic – I was tempted to hang out with my friends but I didn’t, I knew I was being relied upon plus I wanted my money!…Not giving up when the going gets tough or when your motivation is sliding will help you develop a good track record, unless of course you’re miserable in which case you’ll know for next time what job to avoid.
  • Being part of a team, problem solving and working independently – my sister and I shared the route so we had to learn how to work together without fighting but I delivered the papers on my own and it was up to me to sort out any issues that came up along the way….Learning where your strengths lie in problem solving is important for all areas of your life and even if you work for yourself you’ll always be involved in a team, be it your family, friends or your sports club. Knowing how to manage both these environments will always stand you in good stead.
  • Verbal communication and customer service – I learned early on the people who I delivered newspapers to associated me with the newspaper so I made sure to smile and ask them how their day was….Communication is always in the top 10 skills required by employers no matter what the job is. Even if your job is not dealing with members of the public you will still have internal clients like your colleagues.
  • You’ll have to do things you don’t like – I really disliked fitting the newspapers into the carrier of my bike, they had to be folded just so….Every job you have or subject you study, no matter how much you love it, will always contain boring or difficult tasks. Learn how to manage these tasks effectively to stop them ruining eveything you do like!
  • Working is good for your health – I discovered that work made me feel useful, wanted and it kept me out of mischief….Working means different things for each of us and whether you work for money or not the characteristics of work like activity, social interaction and identity are proven to be beneficial for our physical and mental health.

What did you learn in your first job?

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Advice, Career advice, Jobs, Reflection, Skills development


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