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While we all spent our teen years at various jobs ranging from babysitting to working part time at a retail store, that doesn’t quite compare to your first big girl job. Whether it’s a major internships or working for a start-up, your first job will come with so many exciting moments and learning curves.

No matter what the job is or how many cups of coffee you have to fetch, remember that this job is providing you with an extremely valuable opportunity to learn and gain some experience. There will be plenty of good days and bad days, but they all add up to a great first job, a job that you will walk away from with a better understanding of yourself and your abilities.

There is really only so much you can learn from the classroom – sometimes you just have to dive right in to get the full experience. You will definitely learn from your first job, but here is some advice on how to get the most out of your first big girl job experience.

  1. First in, last out.  

    Try to make it a habit to be the first one in and the last one out of the office. This means quite literally being the one who unlock the doors and brews the pot of coffee each and every day. If you don’t have access to a set of office keys, make it a habit to enter and leave with your manager. This shows your team and your boss that you are committed.

  2. Your actions become your reputation.

    Similar to the first tip, what you do becomes what you’re known for. Good or bad.  Try to set boundaries in your work space. If you want to leave work at the office, only answer emails during the workday. Decide early which employee you want to be.

    Are you going to be the person they call when there is something at 8AM on a Sunday morning, or will you tell them you will be available on Monday? It’s important to have a plan for balancing your work life and personal life. Your actions define you so: Will you be early or late? Will you be friendly to everyone or a gossip? Are you going to dress appropriately or skip washing your hair for three days? Will you finish assignments on time or will you miss deadlines?

  3. Nothing is “beneath” you.  

    If someone asks you to take out the trash, do it. Someone asks you to grab a coffee? Do it. If someone asks you to shred paperwork, do it. It doesn’t matter if you graduated from an Ivy League with a 4.0. You’re establishing yourself at your first job. Even though these tasks seem unimportant, treat them like they are important, because they are.

  4. Try to figure out questions on your own.

    At a new job, especially a first one, there will be a lot of things you don’t know. Between figuring out your role, learning new procedures, and navigating the culture of your new team, you will have questions. Try your best to figure out some of the answers on your own. When you have a more pressing question, people will more than likely be happy to explain.

  5. Find a buddy.

    Find someone at your company who is around your age and experience level. She’ll be your coffee break buddy and your lunch buddy. It’s nice to know that you have someone on your side that you can talk to.

  6. Cry outside.

    Do your best to save the crying until you’re off the clock. If you have to cry, excuse yourself. Take five minutes to get fresh air and get out of the office. Leave your personal struggles at the door and remain professional, even if you’re hurt or upset with something your boss says. Sit in your car or walk around the block. Find a theme song for this time in your life, plug in your headphones and turn the volume all the way up. Remember that you were hired for a reason, you have the skills, and you are going to crush this new job.

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Cecelia M