I think that everyone’s first position is an important learning experience for their careers, and I’m sure that whenever people think back, there are always things that they had that influenced their careers. I don’t think we put much stock into it at the time. Years later, we look back and think about what we did, the people we met, and how it changed us. It sounds rather cliché, but there is a lot of truth to that statement.
In that regard, I am no different. I had a very illuminating manager, who was very passionate about what he did and knew exactly what I was going though. My position was unique in that it was not wholly related to my career, it was technology-oriented, versus a purely accounting oriented position.
Looking back, I thoroughly enjoyed my first professional position. It was because I had such a great boss and because it was an experience that I was passionate about. By the way, if you are reading this, don’t worry if you did not love your first position, it is not set in stone at all. Listen to many of the successful people around the world and note how they moved around after their first position to other careers. Many never planned to be where they were when they started, but “somehow” got to where they were, often purely by serendipity.
A Learning Experience
Here is a list of everything that I learned that I could think of:
Organizational and Cultural
- Working in a large organization
- Working in a university environment and the specific needs for a university
- The research-oriented environment versus in a profit-oriented company
Human Relations Skills
- How to tailor specific ideas to an audience
- Improving my attitude and professionalism in a business environment
- Improving relations with my manager and his manager
- Presenting Keynotes for a specific audience
- Answering questions from people of varying levels of technical knowledge
- Working with people from various backgrounds (ex: not everyone has my major!)
- Building a rapport with colleagues and dividing up work
- Specializing in a specific area and becoming the “go to” person for that
- Basic programming experiences with Objective C
- More experiences working with Mac OS X and iOS
- Researching for a professional setting (versus before in a purely academic setting)
- An emerging technology, Augmented Reality
- Various mobile operating systems
- Documentation of work for the next team
- Preparing a draft Request for Proposal (RFP)
You might be thinking, that is quite a list. I bet that if you were to list everything out on your first job, you would be able to come up with a similar list. I bet that there is a lot more that I have forgotten to list here! I am actually planning to go back and add to this list when I can think of more things that I think are worthy of this list.
When you think about it, your first job is really a huge learning experience. You don’t always realize it at the time, but going back, it’s a big, big deal. It will affect how you see the world of work for the rest of your career.
These are also skills that a person develops over the rest of their lives. My skills in these fields certainly are not complete, and I bet I could in some way improve in every one of these areas. They are what you transfer too to your next career.
This was my first experience, and it played a huge role in shaping my career. It also made me decide that accounting was for me and to continue the program.
In the comments below, I would love to hear about your story and what your first professional job did to shape your life. Also, if you have a list that you’ve made, feel free to link it. I would love to see what everyone else has done. Until next time.