The Importance of Your First Job

By Roberto Angulo

Your first job, whether it’s an internship or a full-time one, is important for many reasons. It determines your career trajectory. It can set you up for success if everything aligns or it can give you a slow start if for some reason it doesn’t work out as expected. Knowing the different aspects to consider in your first job allows you to make a better decision on which opportunities to pursue.

Getting exposed to an industry

More important than the employer is the industry in which you’re getting into. If you go to work for an insurance company, you’ll gain knowledge and eventually some expertise in the insurance field. Likewise, if you go work at a company like Facebook, you’ll be in tech, and more specifically, in the media space.

Whatever job you choose, make sure you have some interest in the industry to which the employer belongs, and think about where you’d like to spend some meaningful amount of time in the space.

Are you going into an industry that’s growing or one that is in a state of change? You may thrive in one that is looking to innovate, such as the media space where news is evolving from print to digital. Or you may choose to play it safe and go into a proven space like tech.

Doing the job itself

The actual work you’ll be doing will move you to specialize in a certain area and you’ll gain a specific set of skills. Having an idea of what kind of work you’ll do in a job will give you insight into what types of skills you’ll acquire over time. Make sure these are the skills you want to develop.

For example, if you choose to take a sales role, you’ll learn about sales techniques and develop certain skills sets. Over time, you’ll know if this is the job for you. Will you like constantly interacting with people or would you rather have a role behind the scenes?

Building your professional network

Your first job is not just about what you do but also about whom you do it with. Having good colleagues with whom you can collaborate makes all the difference in the world. These are individuals who will help you in your career. They can pull you with them to other organizations as they move.

You can also hire them to go work with you if you ever decide to go to another employer.

The right group of co-workers can help increase your chances of being successful, both at your current job and throughout your career.