What I Learned in My First Post-Graduate Job

“You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.” ~ Wayne Gretzky.
Last week March 7th marked my 1 year anniversary at my first post-grad job. I feel like I only started a few months ago yet I’ve grown so much since then. Professionally, personally, financially and socially. With 12 months under my belt, I thought this would be a good time to share the little knowledge and wisdoms I’ve gained over the past year.

“You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.”  ~ Wayne Gretzky


Last week March 7th marked my 1 year anniversary at my first post-grad job. I feel like I only started a few months ago yet I’ve grown so much since then. Professionally, personally, financially and socially. With 12 months under my belt, I thought this would be a good time to share the little knowledge and wisdoms I’ve gained over the past year.

1) Soft skills are more important than your hard skills. Apart from managing my dissertation at university, I’d never done any project management related work. However, the soft skills that I had made it easier for me to grasp the concept of project management in the real world. Have a willingness to be the best at what you do even if you don’t know exactly what you’re doing can take you far.

2) Nothing will make sense at first. Unless you’ve been there done that and bought the post card, you’ll feel like a fish out of water. From the jargon used during meetings to socialising with co-worker, you will feel a little alien but will soon settle after a few months.You’re in a new environment so it will take some time to adapt but trust  me it will happen. You don’t have to force it.

3) It’s OK not to know. Asking questions is your new weapon. Even stupid questions. It’s better to ask a stupid question than to make a stupid mistake. You can’t play the I don’t know card for long if you want to progress. But think about the question before asking.

4) It’s OK to say no. Being the unqualified newbie, you want to please everybody. That should include yourself. Know your limits and make sure it is known by others. If you are valued then your time should also be valued. A justified no is better than a regretful yes.

5) 24 hours just isn’t enough. Working 9 to 5 will make you realise just how little time you have for yourself. How did my mum do this plus go to university and raise 3 kids?  This will make you realise the true importance of organisation skills and why diaries are so useful.

6) Clients will always think they are right. No matter how mistaken the client is, they are never allowed to feel your frustration even if they show it to you. You must always control your emotions and learn to articulate your frustrations in the nicest way. It takes practice and a lot of proof-reading (from you and others). Don’t let anyone (especially clients) cause you to step out of character because you are responsible for your actions, not them.

7) Your manager is your confidant. If there is one person in the office you should be confiding in about your work it should be your manager. They should have your best interest at heart and are in the position of making things happen that can make your work life easier. If you can’t confide in them about work then they shouldn’t be managing you.

8) It’s not all about the money. Your first job should really be about experience more than money. Don’t turn away an opportunity just because of money. If I did, I wouldn’t be doing a job I’d never done before and loving a company I’d never heard of before. Learn to crawl before you can walk and soon you will be climbing.

9) Money does help. At first it may not be about the money but once you have some experience and grow as a person you start to understand your value. You now have some experience to back up the salary you expect and the confidence to get it. If you focus on being the best, the money will come to you. Your job should not only repay you but reward you for the work you do.

10) Speaking gets easier. Whether it’s speaking in a meeting, to a client or participating in office banter; the freedom to express yourself appropriately gets easier after a few months. It’s not a popularity contest in the real world. Your work speaks louder than your words. As you gain more confidence in the work you do, your words will find confidence too.

11) Every mistake is knowledge. When I’ve made a mistake I’ve never forgotten it. Why? Because failure is the best teacher. You’ll make mistakes during the first few months but slowly you’ll see how your mistakes turn to knowledge that prevent others from making the same mistakes.

12) Culture fit/match is a big deal. You may like the work you do and how much you make but the company culture makes a huge difference. Finding a company that fits with your culture will make the Monday mornings and late nights much more bearable. You’ll find that your work-life balance is easier to manage and lessons 1 – 11 become much easier to grasp in a company culture that fits with you.

Going into the real world isn’t easy. When you finish university, you’re launched into a world you feel is too grown up for you. A world that reminds you just how much you don’t know. You can no-longer hide behind the fancy words on your CV or the grades you got at university. You are put to the test – as a graduate and a person.

Though going into the real world isn’t easy; with the right support system, attitude  and vision, it isn’t hard either.

A lot can happen in 12 months and I’m excited for what the next 12 months will bring. Will I still be in the same role, at the same company with the same positive vibes I have today? We’ll see.

Your Turn…

What was the most important lesson you learned from your first entry-level job? What advice would you give to someone starting out in their career?

Get in touch, tweet me @lydonlifeblog or share your experiences and tips with everybody in the comments.

Till next time.

Lydia x | https://lydonlife.wordpress.com

P.s: Here are some other articles I found interesting on first job lessons:

Workplace Loneliness is Real

“If one’s different, one’s bound to be lonely.” ~ Aldous Huxley.
We spend more time at work than we do at home yet for some of us, the workplace can be the most loneliest place to be. Is camaraderie and social connection a key to workplace satisfaction and happiness?

“If one’s different, one’s bound to be lonely.”
Aldous Huxley


We spend more time at work than we do at home yet for some of us, the workplace can be the most loneliest place to be. Research conducted by Mind and totaljobs has shown that more than 60% of employees in the UK have felt lonely at work. Workplace loneliness is real.

I definitely fall into that 60% but who is to blame? Is it a lack of social skills? Or the lack of support from the company? Or is it the workload? For me it’s a mixture of them all. I thought I was the only one who felt some type of loneliness at work but according to a survey by the Jo Cox Commission in 2017, nine million people in the UK are affected by workplace loneliness.

Don’t get me wrong, I love my work and the people I interact with daily are some of the nicest people I have ever met. But you see you can be surrounded by all those people and still feel lonely. My usual routine getting into the office is tea first, greet the team then its headphones in and head down. For some us, that is our norm. With large workloads, technology replacing human interaction and the social anxiety from having to do small talk in a professional environment, getting your work done becomes more important than socialising.

My role as a Project Manager means I often work with different groups of people in the company. You’d think I’d have made meaningful connections with people, right? Nope. As a Project Manager I don’t really belong to a team. I’m currently the only Project Manager so if I want to get my work done in time for me to leave at 6, I tune out everything and everyone that isn’t contributing to my productivity. Majority of the interactions I have with people are work related which leaves very little room for more personal connections.

When you feel this isolated, it can lead you to overwork yourself to justify your work loneliness. Unfortunately this often leads to further isolation outside of work. Whenever I’ve been invited for after work drinks I’ve always said no. Partly because I’m tired but also if I can’t talk to them during work hours, what the hell am I going to say to them outside of work?

So I keep to myself.

It’s sad but it’s the reality for a lot of people. Especially those who want to build deeper connections that go beyond the small talk in the kitchen during lunch. It’s strange to say that I suffer from workplace loneliness because I’m not that person outside of work. I wonder why? What is it about the professional environment that causes us to become something we’re not?

Perhaps I’m still adjusting to my environment or perhaps the type of people that I can build deeper connections with just haven’t come around yet. Maybe I just need to stop overthinking and take the plunge to actually accept an invitation to after-work drinks. Or maybe I should spend my lunch time hours eating infant of people and not in front of my laptop. Or perhaps the company will arrange some social activities during work hours. I don’t know but something has to be done.

I’m still finding my feet in this role and company so who knows where things will be in a few months time. Will I still feel this lonely?

March 2017 will mark 1 year since I’ve been at my new job. I wondering if things will be different by then. Let’s hope so.

Do you ever feel alone in the office? What makes you feel that way? How do you deal with it?

Let me know in the comments below!

Lydia x

P.s: Here are a few articles I found interesting regarding work loneliness:

The important lessons I wish I had been taught in School for the real world, from personal health to money issues – and the topics that need to be added into the curriculum for future generations