6 Big Lessons I Learned from My First Job After College

1. Teamwork Doesn’t Go Away

Remember the collective groan in class when a group project was announced? Groan no more, because, in the real world, working in teams never goes away.

And that’s a good thing: our coworkers are a valuable resource of knowledge and experience.

2. You Need to Keep Learning

Just because you graduated from college doesn’t mean you can stop learning about your industry.

Stay curious. Keep up with the changing technologies and be open to change.

3. Be Ready to Know Nothing

So you studied your field for four years, did a few internships, and now you landed your first job.

Congrats! You know nothing.

When I started my job, the systems my company uses were nothing like those I had experienced using in school. Your first few weeks will be a crash course in everything you never learned in school.

I’ve spent a lot of time on my own learning all about my company and reviewing their past projects in order to learn everything I need to know to succeed at my workplace. It took a lot of effort, but it was worth it.

4. Learn to Prioritize

Jobs don’t come with a syllabus of every assignment for the next six months. Tasks will pile up with competing deadlines, sometimes with last-minute projects added on.

Learn your priorities. In addition, eventually, you’ll need to learn to say "no" and manage the expectations of your bosses and colleagues.

5. It’s All for Real

We’re not working for good grades anymore. Our job performance pays rent. People rely on us.

Work hard, because it matters.

6. Don’t Forget the Fun

It’s an intense period transitioning from school to the professional world — we’re proving ourselves and working out our survival.

However, don’t forget to live a little.

Just like in college, when you needed a break from marathon study sessions, don’t let your personal life completely disappear.

Go to happy hours. Enjoy the weekends. Be young and fabulous!

  • Scott Shannon

    Tina,
    This is great advice. I’ve been in the workforce since 1970, and what you have written was true then and true now. I hope your article resonates with new graduates because following your advice will help them succeed in any field.

  • Gabriel Valdivia

    Great article Tina. I’m 2 months away from my AAS in Web Graphic Design so this is very timely. Thanks!

  • You’re right.
    Real exprience is different what u learn in books. So try as much as you can.
    Life is too short for lazy man.

  • Candace Phelps

    These are all really helpful tips, Tina. I graduated last spring and was just hired on at my summer-job-just-turned-permanent. I really appreciate the point about prioritizing – tough but necessary.

  • This a great article, and i found too don’t stop learning

  • yes Tina, you are absolutely right after collage we will learn more things about our carrier.

  • anna

    It looks like a 12th grader wrote this article and that 6th graders are posting comments

  • Whitney

    Anna thanks for keeping it real. Anyone can write an article on the internet nowadays. Unfortunately it seems as if all these “author’s” are copying each others material word from word. These articles I often find on the internet give common sense answers and the commenter s that reply to these articles act as if they were paid to be amazed at these lackluster articles. I want to read some real articles with not only cold hard facts but read about the personal experiences of the author. The internet is a junkyard full of generic websites with generic articles written by people trying to make a quick buck off Google Adsense.

  • vishal rathod

    really, great advance….