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7 Ways First Jobs Have Lasting Importance

Whether millennials are talking about their first and second jobs and where they want to go next, Gen Xers discuss the peak of their careers, boomers share their career journeys, or seniors leave full-time employment and are looking for a place to share their experiences, almost everyone reflects on what they learned on their first job that helped propel and direct their careers. In honor of all the Gen-Zers who are graduating this year and moving into the workforce, here are the collective insights on the lasting importance of first jobs:

  1. Bring your best self. Whether that’s how you arrive, speak, dress, or contribute, bring your best self to work every day. Dress, speak, and act the way the successful people do in your organization. Ask for advice from people you respect and trust. Find out what they see in you and bring that out for the world to see. Your best selves will continue to evolve and grow. You’ll learn how to help and inspire others to bring their best selves, too.
  2. Show Confidence. Speak up when you have ideas that may help the company. Stand up for what you believe in. Know your presentations, pitches, and proposals well enough to deliver them with confidence. It’s impossible to predict every question you will be asked, but trust in and have confidence in yourself and your ideas. Showing confidence grows it exponentially.
  3. Learn from experience. Not everything will go right. The key is not to be perfect but to learn from every experience. Ask questions, be humble, and acknowledge that you don’t know everything. Show you’re willing to learn and work smarter. Take good advice to heart and demonstrate that you’ve learned. Have mentors inside and outside the company. Keep asking questions, listening and demonstrating what you’ve learned. Share what you’re learning to help others.
  4. Learn to pivot. What you do, how you do it, and how the industry operates will change quickly, whether because of consumer demand, new technology, or changes to remain competitive. Learn to let go, remain calm and be flexible. Learn to pivot
  5. Learn as much as you can. Our first jobs are where we gain the experience that lands us the next job and starts building us toward our careers, entrepreneurial efforts, and experiences that make up our lives. Learn everything you can along the way; get exposure to and work with as many different people in the organization as you can, and make sure you learn about yourself, too – what you like, what you’re good at, and what you want to do more of.
  6. Build Your Professional Network. Attend as many internal and client meetings as you can. There is a lot you can learn by being in the room, at the table, and with as many different people as possible. Participate in all the activities the company offers, from training and networking to conferences and speaking engagements
  7. Be happy. If you’re not, it’s a sign that it’s time to move on – and move up in your career. Being happy is the best grounding for a successful life.

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