I’ve been having a hard time in my first job. And by ‘having a hard time’ I mean I’ve been feeling stressed out, overwhelmed, and like I have no clue what I’m doing 83% of the time.
Let me preface this with: I love my job. There’s nothing else I’d rather be doing. Loving my job, however, doesn’t mean that it isn’t difficult, or that I don’t have some really hard days. But like every #girlboss, I know that it’s normal to struggle. I spilled my heart out to my #SApro friends who are also new professionals and working to adjust to their new roles. Their experiences and my own inspired me to compile 25 things that no one tells you about your first job.
If there’s one thing I’m sure of, it’s this: Your first job is the hardest.
1. If you’re coming right out of school, be prepared for everyone to mistake you for a student. And to ask for your supervisor.
2. Professional clothes are expensive.
3. You have to make important decisions that matter, and you don’t have a GA or internship supervisor to run every detail by before doing it. (i.e. You went from being in Destiny’s Child to being Beyonce. You’re a big solo star now, but you don’t have Kelly & Michelle to consult with.)
4. You’re going to feel dumb a lot, even though you have your master’s degree.
5. Students can and will teach you so much about your new university.
6. No matter how much you did as a grad student, there’s a different level of expectation and responsibility as a professional.
7. No one is checking up on you. In grad school you have your faculty advisor, your GA advisor, your internship advisor, and your cohort on call pretty much every day. Now, you have support as a new professional, but it’s not like the support you receive as a student.
8. You have to set boundaries and take care of yourself. No one knows that you have too much on your plate unless you tell them.
9. Taxes are real.
10. Retirement and health insurance costs are real. And you have to set up your retirement plan and benefits yourself.
11. The good news: for the most part, no one tells you what to do.
12. The bad news: for the most part, no one tells you what to do.
13. You’re going to ask a ton of questions.
14. It’s normal to work all day and feel like you got nothing done.
15. You don’t know what relationships already exist in your organization, and how your role fits into the existing political atmosphere.
16. It’s hard to be a supervisor and challenge students, get the level of work you want from them, hold them accountable, be fun, and be respected.
17. You’re really close in age to the students you’re working with. As a result, navigating that can be even harder as a new professional than it was as a grad student.
18. Working 9-5 at your first job can be just as exhausting as running from class to your GA to the gym to an event on campus.
19. You don’t have to tell anyone you’re going to lunch. You just go. (I had no idea what to do on my first day. #embarassing).
20. You have to work harder at friendships when you don’t see people naturally in class every day.
21. It’s normal to be really homesick if you’ve relocated.
22. It’s okay to say no. You don’t have to accommodate every request that comes across your desk.
23. Trying to work hard and prove yourself while maintaining work / life balance and not burn yourself out is a challenge.
24 You need to have a life outside of work. And that doesn’t mean taking your computer home and working from your couch every night.
25. It’s okay to feel like you have no idea what you’re doing.
Do these struggles speak to your soul? Do you have advice for new professionals? Share with me in the comments.
Huge thank you to my first-year #SApro friends for supporting me, and for contributing to this post:
- Sara Gould – Assistant Director for Career & Industry Engagement, University of Florida
- Jeannene Jones – Residence Life Coordinator, Washington & Jefferson College
- Kara Werkmeister – Residence Hall Director & Instructor, Old Dominion University
This post is part of the Emerging SA Pro series following 4 awesome people: Aracelis, Emalie, Felicia, and Patrick, as they blog monthly about 1 year of their journey as either a new SA Pro or SA grad student. We are proud to help them share their stories as they break into our field.