Whether you’ve had to search for a job or even had one handed to you’ve been hired. And I reckon that regardless of how you got your first job, the experience is one you’re not likely to forget. This is partly because the process might have been long and frustrating or because of all the changes, challenges or the exciting opportunities it presented. For with all things new, there is a sense of expectation, excitement, anxiousness and even fear that comes along with it. Will I be good at it? Will I like it? Will they like me? And while these questions will occupy your thoughts for days or years to come, as you tackle your “many firsts”, one thing is sure, your life will change.
For some people, the change and opportunity costs might be small /subtle, but for others they might be more far-reaching as noted below:
- Relocating or leaving the comfort of home for the first time for your own place ;
- Greater independence and responsibility as you can now access things you couldn’t previously afford, may have to contribute to the household/sibling, or simply take care of yourself ;
- The loss of endless free time to sleep late, watch TV, hang out or party like a rock star until the wee hours of the morning;
- The unnerving realization of just how small the world is – as suddenly people from work “pop up” in the strangest places like the supermarket, hairdresser/barbershop, movies, parties. And suddenly, there is always somebody you know from work who knows somebody and you are reminded to be on your best behavior.
For me, the year was 2004, and my first job brought all that and then some. I had aced my interview and was offered a more senior role than the position I had interviewed for. This opportunity was to uproot me from my comfort zone and circle of family and friends in Kingston, Jamaica to the cool climes of Mandeville, Manchester. And though I was not familiar with the area, had no contacts there, and only two weeks to get relocated, I jumped at the offer and accepted my new job. After all, the way I reasoned it, I would still be living in the same country, I had no ties, my new job would be centrally located (only 2 hours’ drive) from the places I called home, and my friends and family would be relatively close enough for me to maintain my social life.
So with all the gusto that only youth and starting new chapter in one’s life can bring, I tackled the challenges of finding an apartment, acquiring furniture, learning to navigate a new town without being mobile, meeting my supervisor and the rest of the team. Looking back, this big change brought me equal doses of fear, doubt, anxiety and excitement. Nonetheless, I managed all this with relative success and survived my first day on the job. But, there was no way I could have or would have envisaged or adequately planned for the added dimension of a Category 5 hurricane hitting the entire island during my first week on the job. Hurricane Ivan ravaged Jamaica’s physical infrastructure (homes, roads), wreaked havoc on the natural landscape, plunged huge sections of the island into darkness and damaged other utilities that would make communications via telephone/internet particularly challenging if not impossible.
So to make a long story short, I weathered the hurricane reasonably well at home, but had no such luck at work, as Murphy’s Law was in full swing, and everything that could go wrong- did. Notwithstanding, the effects of the hurricane was a mixed blessing. It created considerable down time in the company’s operations. This frustrated our customers and prevented me and the rest of the team from executing some of our deliverables on the job . Yet, it provided me with great opportunities for teamwork and building relationships with my colleagues, which would make the difficult days/years more pleasant. More importantly, it enabled me “to jump in at the deep end”, add value and demonstrate the unique talent I brought to the team,which would augur well for my later success.
Therefore, here is my advice to anyone entering the world of work, starting a new job or a first job:
- Be open-minded, committed and expect the unexpected.Great opportunities may come from outside your comfort zone;
- Be gracious and kind to everyone. You never know just how your actions may impact others, create goodwill or send recognition your way;
- Give of your best efforts and don’t be a slave to your job description. So while you do your job, help out a colleague whenever you see a need and wherever you can- you will learn the company’s operations much faster ;
- Take your time- no matter how perfect, bright and talented you think you are, you will make mistakes, but that just another way to learn.
What’s your story? Please share, I’d like to hear from you.
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