What to Expect for Your First Job: Fact vs. Fiction

What to Expect for Your First Job Fact vs. Fiction

Myths are fun. If you swallow chewing gum, will it stick in your stomach for seven years?

If you drop a penny off the Empire State Building, does it become a deadly weapon?

When you get your first job, will your coworkers treat you like the office drudge?

Wait, that last example wasn’t fun. In fact, it ticked you off.

You’re about to start your first “real” job, and you have no idea what to expect from the professional world.

Enough with copper coins and sticks of gum. You want the truth.

It’s hard to wade through the ocean of information and pick out fact from fiction.

But fret no more, because we’re about to investigate the most common rumors about your first job and let you know whether they’re fact or fiction.


1. Your starting salary will be $70,000: MYTH

Let’s go toe-to-toe with the heavyweight right out the gate: your salary expectations are likely too high. Having a degree doesn’t even guarantee you a job, let alone a high-paying job.

Your starting salary should come close to industry standards in your area, and it should cover set expenses like rent and student loans. But don’t be surprised if your major bills practically drain your bank account at first.

You have plenty of time to move up and get a raise, so while you might find yourself in salary negotiations down the road, try not to dwell on your initial salary.


2. You’ll work long hours and be stressed all the time: MYTH

Okay, there might be days when you show up to work before sunrise, frantically juggle four different assignments at once and feel like you’re balding at your desk. Stress and long hours are inherent parts of work.

But once you settle into your position, you’ll figure out how to manage your time effectively. Daily tasks won’t wear you down, you’ll learn how to prioritize your projects and you’ll become more flexible.

Plus, unlike nightly classwork, your job responsibilities normally stay at the office, so you can enjoy some free time once you’re off the clock.


3. Your first job will affect the rest of your career: FACT

Your first job is important. Not just because you get exposure to the professional world, learn how to work in a team and figure out what you’re passionate about. Your first job is valuable because it lays the groundwork for your not-so-immediate future.

Sure, you might jump ship and change career paths 15 years down the road. But in many cases, your first job has a tremendous butterfly effect on the direction of your career.

If you start as a sales associate, there’s a good chance you’ll stay in retail. But even if you don’t, this first job will undoubtedly affect your future in one way or another.


4. You’ll hate your first job: MYTH

“Hate” is an extreme, and so is “love.” The truth is, you’ll likely feel pretty “meh” about your first job. You might love your coworkers and the freedom you’re given, but you might hate the menial tasks, the CEO and the company’s lack of direction.

It can take more a than decade to find the perfect position with the perfect company, but your first job will give you valuable industry experience that will springboard you into your future. Even if you detest certain aspects of the job, you should appreciate the opportunities it gives you.

You actually have more opportunities open to you now. The problem is that it’s easy to feel stuck once you’ve signed an offer sheet and established a routine.

Your first job is normally a resume builder. Maybe you’ll end up loving the company and staying put for several years. But in many cases, your first job gives you some time to reflect on your options, like going back to school or switching industries.