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April 12, 2010


This is great advice. My daughter graduates in May and is looking for that first out of college job. I'm with you. I want her to learn as much as she can and see the position as a step up the ladder not the permanent end all decision.

As my daughter's graduation approaches, I'll be dedicated a few of my posts to her covering this topic and a few related ones that are currently hitting very close to home.

I remember my first job as a waitress. Not what I would call fun, lol, but it did help me to learn to listen to people. All the jobs I had after that were stepping stones to where I am now. For me, if there was such a thing as the "perfect job", it is being a Temp because you get to acquire more skills in less time without having to stick it out or redo your resume so much. :-)

I love the pressure of trying to find the perfect first job.

You're only young without a family once.

Work 90 hours per week and try and retire at 35 and live the rest of your life worry free.

Another perfect first job is at a start-up, where you'll learn entrepeneurship and zillions of task at once, for a very measly pay.

My first job was as marketing assitant in an Internet start-up. The pay sucked, it had nothing to do with my degree (journalism) and, the second I started working I discovered I was really assisting no one but was THE sole marketing person in the company. The 'Assistant' part was only there to justify the pay. Anyhow, it's definitely the job where I learned the most and start-ups have no ceilings whatsoever... a year into the job I was promoted to Product Manager, received training and, once I really got sick and tired of the job, got hired as a Project Manager for a very good salary for another Internet company that's been around for years. I'm barely 26 and making tons more than other people my age - yet, when I first started, I was making tons less.

If you work hard, get results are proactive and really, really do things that matter to the company (other people would call this 'wear the company's shirt', but that metaphor will only be understood by soccer fans), you'll definitely get far, no matter what company you're in.

Sage advice Alexandra.

I've noticed here in Singapore that students are often under a lot of pressure from their parents, who don't view the subject with as much nonchalance. Children are expected to establish worthwhile careers from the get-go.

Have you noticed this attitude elsewhere in your experience?

In general society puts way too much pressure on children to succeed. I think this hyper-competitive drive is born out of a fear of failure.

People are correct in assuming that grinding out a living in a low-paying job can be brutal, however all the pressure that is put on young people can cause inordinate amounts of stress.

This stress can hinder young job seekers from taking the necessary steps to navigate their way to the career they want for themselves. And yes, sometimes this might mean a stint working under extremely rough conditions.

Thank you for you column, I felt the same way when I first graduated and I was driven, well a lot driven to find my so called dream job, but when I did land my first job as an investment banker, I found that I love it lesser each day, and it came to one point I was sad to go into the office. At the age of 26, where at this age I am expected to get my promotion and settle down, I left my job and went back to school to pursue my interest in the development world, and now I am working with Amnesty International, and loving every single day that I'm in it! I see my first job as a stepping stone as well, as I was able to interact with other people and learn more about not only my industry but other areas as well.

This is so true. And really, the majority of people don't end up in the same job or even career area that they started in. They move on as they develop new skills and interests. I started out in medical sales, moved into recruiting, and now I've added career coaching for sales and marketing professionals to my resume. Not only has my primary focus changed, but I help people transition into new career areas all the time:
Best of luck,
Peggy McKee

Jumping in to the workforce can be exciting and also come with some apprehension.You shared some great advice-what stood out the most was "If there’s one piece of advice I have on this topic, it’s that your career is a journey, not a destination." That is so very true!

Your point about transferable skills is extremely important, especially in the IT industry. The worst thing you can do is to spend 3 or 4 years actively working for a company using old technology. If you find yourself in that situation, make sure you keep your skills up to date through training and continuing education.

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