about your first job

I had this conversation last weekend with my sister, who’s going back to Bandung in one week to start her 7th semester. She’s only about to start her final year of college and she’s been talking about first job with her seniors. The concern was about salary. She was quite surprised that companies will only pay new employees small amount of money.

Normally, college students have some expectations from their first jobs. Well here are some facts about first job:

1. No, nothing from your 1000-page textbooks will actually be useful (unless for the 3-row of formulas which you might still use if you’re working for a technical role). I’m now working for the 3rd company ever since I graduated college and I’ve only used 5-10% of what I’ve learned in college/grad school for all jobs. The rest still needed to be learned when you first join the company.

It doesn’t mean you can be relaxed and forget all things college (if you’re still studying there now). When you’re being a student, it’s your job to study and make sure you pass, if not getting an A, all subjects and graduate as early as possible. Good grades and timely graduation are 2 most important criteria in searching for your first job (at least in a country with more people than available jobs like Indonesia).

2. Your colleagues are not your friends. Bitter truth be said. Normally guys will adapt to this condition quickly, while girls will need to learn by experience. When you’re working, your position defines you. If you’re in an important position where you report directly or work closely with someone in a high position, then people will be very nice to you. The opposite will happen if you’re working for an unimportant position and/or you have a bad attitude.

The key to survive this “jungle” is to be a nice person (means you have to be nice to everyone at work, including the office boys and the security personals – you never know when you’re gonna need them, rite?). After a while, you might or might not have real friends. If you get to meet one, then you’re a lucky person. 🙂

3. Whatever you say can be used against you. Be careful. You cannot say your mind out loud like you do when you’re in college. The freedom of speech is there, but you’re not 100% free.

4. Most companies will pay you at their minimum rate because they give you small works (at first). Nobody knows for sure how you’ll perform at your work. Sometimes they become mean by not raising your salary even after one year or more. If that’s the case, you have the right to stand up and ask for fair increment. If it doesn’t work, then it’s time to find a new company, with your experience.

5. Learn. If this is something you don’t do in college, then it’s time to learn at work. Learn what your colleagues like and are like, learn the office situation, and if you’re interested, learn the politics. Life is a never-ending learning process anyway, rite? 😀

Hope it helps. 😉



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