What to Look for in Your First Job

By absolutely zero means am I a SME (subject matter expert), career coach, or even certified to give legitimate job advice, but I can share my experience from my full-time job search.

I found my first (and current!) full-time job through my college job posting board. I had a phone interview and then interviewed in person the following week, and was offered the job a week after that. Based on my friends’ experiences, this is a pretty “normal” path to finding a job.

I had several internships in college and these experiences were crucial. Not only could I talk these up in interviews later, but I learned what I wanted (and didn’t want) in a full-time job. For example, here are some items you might want to ask yourself:

– What size company do you want to work at?

– What salary range do you need to support your desired lifestyle?

– What benefits are important to you?

– What do you want your commute to look like?

– Do you want a “hands on” or “hands off” manager?

– Do you want to be client-facing or explicitly internal?

– How do you feel about working on the weekends/late evenings?

– Do you want to be friends with your coworkers? Or do you want your coworkers to care about your personal life?

– Do you want to be part of a large team, or be one of a few?

Of course you don’t need to have ALL of this figured out, but it doesn’t hurt to start thinking about these facets. I had 6-7 internships in college, both full-time and part-time, and I did not love all of them. I found things I liked in every single one, but I couldn’t picture myself working full-time at all of them. So if you hate your internship, that’s okay. Every experience is helpful and is one that you can learn from.

Personally, I picked my agency because of its vibrant culture, investment in employees, and opportunity for growth. While my role isn’t necessarily high-paying, it’s enough for me to live a comfortable and happy lifestyle. With every job you are going to have to pick your “must haves” and things you can live without, just like picking a college, picking a S.O., signing a lease, and almost everything else.

My “must haves” were culture, generous PTO/benefit options, small to medium organization, and ultimately high quality people.

My friends and peers that are unhappy in their roles are surprisingly making really good money, but ultimately aren’t content. Whether it’s internal pressures, working constantly around the clock, or not having a work/personal life balance. Many of them feel as though their current situation isn’t sustainable, and can’t see themselves at those companies for more than a couple years. If you can’t see yourself at company for more than 2 years, isn’t it hard to invest your time and efforts there?

If you’re in your twenties and panicking about not having your “dream job”, there is no need to stress. I found myself stressing the months leading up to graduation as many of my friends had landed extremely high-paying salaries at large, glamorous corporations. I finally called my Mom in tears, and her calming words of advice were, “Honey, you don’t need to have your dream job at 22/23. Imagine landing your dream job this young? What else would you have to look forward to? Would you really want your career to peak at 22/23?”

These words have brought me enormous peace, and I hope they bring you peace too.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: