Sunday, 18 November 2012

First Job

With a year of struggling to live on £100 a week in endless, dead-end placements - exhausted from working in excess of 40 hours, with a weekend job or bar work on the side - to be offered a permanent junior role with a decent salary is the ultimate achievement. The sense of relief and exasperation in your first proper wage packet is uncomparable. All your hard work has paid off. The expectation is that signing that contract is like the beginning of a beautiful marriage between you and your job (your first proper job!) - it should be the happiest day of your life - and not a decision to be taken lightly.

A friend recently confessed to me her regret at signing the contract for her permanent position. Having worked there several months beforehand, she knew what she was getting - with long hours, and backache from being hunched over a computer without a lunch break, she worked hard to maintain the full-time role; to convince the directors that she wanted the job. Having proved her worth and happily accepting the role, she settled into the permanent position to find the workload and hours have only got worse, and with no hope of it getting better, she's considering leaving. The honeymoon period is over. With her eyes on the prize, she had lost sight of what really mattered; that she was happy.

This regret can be avoided if you only take a job you are happy in and look forward to doing. A job that excites you and that has you skipping to the train station and into work every morning. A first full-time role should be carefully selected. I feel lucky to have had the opportunity to work in a variety of different places during my year on placement, to allow me to be sure of what I want to do and who I want to work for.

In doing a placement or a trial period for a full-time job, it is a time for the company make sure you are right for the job; but also for you to make sure that they are right for you. Ideally you should be in your first job long enough to warrant a level promotion, or a much higher salary at the next and so it is important to want to stay there and make all the hard work pay off. I went to University and struggled to become a graphic designer because it is important to me to do a job that I enjoy; I want to work somewhere that I love. If the job isn't up to scratch; you can find another. Don't make my friend's mistake and don't be tempted by the money alone. After all, it is not the money that is going to drag you into work everyday and keep a smile on your face.

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