First job: balance between salary and opportunities
If there is a time that university students fear more than the examinations, it is precisely when there are no more courses to be done. Facing the working world may sound stressful; a ritual on the path to maturity, but it can also become an adventure if it is considered another lesson in life.
Instead of becoming absorbed with being able to turn your first contract into a permanent one, concentrate on showing a good attitude, uncovering the best of yourself, learning from others and securing the contacts you treasure, and most importantly, enjoy an experience you will always remember.
In the early days you will feel nervous. Not only is this natural, but it is also something good, as the coach Steve Errey says. “Non-conformity means exploring, learning, improving.” Leaving the comfort zone is one of the best things that can happen to you, so in particular in working life, do not avoid feeling attracted by this sensation of adrenaline that always follows a learning experience and a sensation of satisfaction at what you have done and got over.
Attitude is key
The founder of Amazon Jeff Bezos’s first job was at a McDonald’s. What was Bezos thinking while he filled the ketchup dispensers? Well, not “what a miserable life”. The now multimillionaire several times explained how he took advantage of the job at the orders of Roland to learn lessons on teamwork, on how to deal with people and on staff management.
Your first job after university is likely to be on a grant in a company in your sector. You will be tempted not to make an effort with the argument that you are not likely to get a contract. Don’t fall into this trap, you will be wasting your time.
Be attentive and receptive to advice and recommendations. You will find people better or not so well trained, more or less patient and empathic with new arrivals, but you can learn something from everyone, so be humble and listen. Knowing how to observe your new surroundings and adapt to the work rhythms and layouts will be a point in your favour, so be attentive to the world around you and try to do the jobs you are entrusted with the best of attitudes.
“Non-conformity means exploring, learning, improving” Steve Errey
Compensate your weaknesses
How am I going to gain experience if I don’t get a contract precisely because I have no experience?
In fact, this seems like a fish that bites its own tail. But the fact of not having experience in a previous job does not need to turn you into the worst candidate. With most professions reinventing themselves constantly, with the new technologies changing the paradigms of economic activity, it might be a good option for employers to have a young digital native who wants to rule the world. What’s more, unfortunately many believe that young people can be paid less. Stand up for your rights.
If you believe you are a bit of a fish out of water in some of the jobs that you have to do, don’t hesitate to ask for help and take advantage of the days of less activity to train yourself or learn from a superior.
What’s more, companies often have training courses or informative pages on the tools used in the company. Show interest in these. Far from thinking that you are sufficiently trained, they will appreciate your willingness and motivation, which are two qualities that, unfortunately, some of your more veteran colleagues will have left by the wayside.
Set no limits for yourself
It is easy to feel demotivated when you read lists of job requirements. However, if you think you can do a good job, try to do one. Although you might not fulfil employers’ job offers 100%, they might see something in you. Don’t be the first to be discarded, make sure the others are.
Don’t restrict your job search to one area or your city only. The European Union offers a large number of study and practice grants in their countries, conceived to give youngsters access to the jobs market. Consult the “Eures” programme and ask your nearest public administration about the “European youth guarantee”.
These programmes allow economic help to be applied for to do practice in other countries of the European Union, an experience that can also enrich you to learn other languages, as well as enable you to demonstrate your ability to adapt to other realities and other ways of life and work.
The European Youth Guarantee is an instrument of the European Union that entitles all youngsters of under thirty years of age in Spain to get a job or a study or practice grant if more than four months have passed without them studying or working. You can go to your Council for information. Spain is the country of the European Union that has received most funds as, along with Greece, it is the country with the largest number of young unemployed.
Have a good time
Yes of course the best part of the day starts with a drink after work, but this does not mean that the eight hours in the office have to be a penitence, and much less so if it is your first job. You will have time to get bored, now it is time to enjoy and put your theoretical training into practice. If you are on a grant with a company in which you would like to work in the future, take advantage to give the best of yourself and show what you are capable of.
Think that in your first job, above all if it is on a practice programme, you will not have the responsibility that your colleagues have with their years worked in the company, and it will be taken for granted that you need time to learn. Take advantage of these early weeks to ask questions, to make mistakes and to correct them, to be proactive, to form part of the team and to be attentive and generous with others. This will all contribute to leaving a good image and helping you to feel comfortable and enjoy this early work experience.
Do networking (your life contacts)
Although you think you are invisible to your boss, good work never goes unnoticed, so give 100% of yourself if you are on practice and believe that whatever you do, they are not likely to contract you. Although there might not be any places now, there will be in the future and employers always prefer a good former employee, even though they might have a lot to learn, to someone unknown, no matter how good their curriculum is.
Beyond the relations that you might establish early on directly in the workplace, collect the names and addresses of companies with which you come into contact in your work. All worlds are small, and the professional world too.
So when you start your new job, introduce yourself in person (or by mail) to your company’s contacts, and after your first practice contract, do not hesitate to say goodbye, to thank them for your work together and to show your availability for new challenges.