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The Elements of the Sea – Traversing the World of First Time Employment

Posted by Carolyn Thompson on Aug 16, 2012 in Building Confidence, Job Search, Thinking Positive

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There are few things more terrifying to a 20-something than entering the world of “real” employment. You’ve obtained your degree, put in the classroom hours, stayed up late in the library, written that final essay, and walked that final trip from campus to the ever-looming “real world”. While the working world has always been a challenging aspect of growing up for young adults throughout the year, 20-somethings today face several new (or seemingly new) challenges. With a job market that values experience, an economy struggling to survive, and a youth society burdened by hefty student loan debt, the waters of the “real-world” are turbulent and harsh at times. Many new graduates are either struggling to find work and struggling to stay afloat in the working world. That being said, the waters of new employment don’t have to be overwhelming. As an educated, intelligent, and passionate young professional, you are equipped with the wits and ability to swim the employment sea—and even enjoy the waves.

Jumping In

The first step to succeeding in the world of first time employment is to fully commit to the process. The water might be cold and uninviting in many ways, but you’ve got to just jump right in. Throw yourself out there. Send out endless resumes. Network with everyone you can. Make the job search your first full time job. Trust me—you’ll succeed eventually. Once you land that first “real” job, dive in head first once again. You have to commit. Your first position may not be that dream job you’ve always wanted, but it is a start. Commit yourself to completing the best work you possibly can. Diving in full force will help you make the most of your experience. Try not to be the reserved and timid new kid. Take charge (in the appropriate ways of course) and own your work.

Head above Water

As a first time employee, it can be easy to feel in over your head at times. Just as swimming in the big waves can be scary the first few times, a new job can take some time to find your footing. But, never underestimate your ability to stay afloat. Those first few weeks at a new job can be a struggle. You’re meeting new people, learning new tasks, familiarizing yourself with new procedures—it can be a lot to take on. Even more so, new grads have the added challenge of being new to the employment waters completely. It will take some time to feel comfortable among the waves and choppiness, but you’ll eventually find your way past the break.

Going with the Motions

As a newbie employee in the workforce, things can be choppy at first. The working world isn’t going to be exactly like college. But, even with the changes and challenges, you are well prepared to succeed with your professional pursuits. Think about the things you did in college to succeed and translate those pursuits to your professional life. Your drive, motivation, brains, and goals drove you to succeed in school—and will drive you to succeed in a career as well. While making flashcards and staying up all night in the library may not be the right plan of attack anymore in the working world, that dedication is still essential. You’ve got to learn to go with the motions when you enter the working world for the first time. Things are going to be different. Think of it like this—college was like swimming in the Gulf and the professional world is jumping fresh-faced into the Atlantic (it’s a different pond). Learn to go with the motions. Don’t fight to try to do things the same way you always have. Sometimes you’ll have to let yourself just move with the waves and learn as you go (and with some help).

This guest post was contributed by Samantha Gray. Samantha is a freelance writer who specializes in writing about career advice for college students. She enjoys spending time with her various pets, reading poetry, and traveling to off-the-beaten-path countries and regions. She welcomes questions or comments at samanthagray024

If you have a great idea for a jungle-themed post, let us know! Guest writers or requests are always welcome!

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The Nest – Your First Day At A New Job

Posted by Carolyn Thompson on Jan 28, 2010 in Building Confidence, Career Path

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Winter is still going strong in the early months of the year, but maybe the new year has brought some good news and you are about to start a new job!

When birds create the foundations for a new stage in their lives, they take a lot of time to prepare. You may not need one or two weeks to gather the materials, but don’t underestimate! Nests keep the bird’s most precious possession safe: their eggs. For the time the bird lays and incubates its eggs and raises its young, the nest has to be solid and strong. The foundation for a new job has to be equally strong and you want to be careful to make the best first impression at the start!  

Leave home early in order to be on time. Factor in an extra 15 minutes in case you run into a traffic jam.

Take proper identification with you to fill out your new employee paperwork (if you have not already done so). This could include your passport, a driver’s license, social security card, green card or other authorization required to legally work in the US. Know what your exemptions are for tax purposes, and take emergency contact phone numbers for your file. Many companies offer direct salary deposit, and you can expedite that process by bringing a voided check or deposit slip with you to attach to the appropriate forms. If you need help filling out your forms, ask! Correctly filling out your new hire forms the first time will save you time and trouble later.

Dress professionally and appropriately for the company you are working for. (When in doubt, dress UP…not down.) Make sure your shoes are shined, your clothes are neat and pressed and that you don’t over-accessorize.

Smile, introduce yourself and treat everyone with respect. Saying please and thank you are the easiest ways to make people comfortable quickly.

Make sure you have some cash in case you need it. Trying to find a bank or a cash machine in a new neighborhood may not be the easiest thing on your first day.

You will be presented with a lot of new information the first few days. It will take time for it all to sink in. Don’t be afraid to ask questions…and be sure to take good notes. If you are invited to meetings to observe or participate, be careful not to jump in too quickly, but don’t be afraid to share comments and ideas if you are asked to.

Change is always difficult no matter how much you prepare. Realize that feelings of nervousness are expected and very common no matter your career level. You will likely miss your old, familiar surroundings. Rest assured, in a few days time, your new environment will become more comfortable and familiar to you. You will settle into your new routine, develop new friendships at your new company and still have the good relationships you developed at your former one.

This is your chance to start from scratch and build your solid nest from experience and preparation. First impressions are not only important but lasting. Make sure you do everything you can to set the tone you want to carry through this important step in your career. Make a comfortable nest for yourself by properly preparing for the first day, and weeks and that strong foundation will help you settle into your new job.



For more job search tips, please visit where you can find resources on interviewing, resume writing, and making a great first impression! Tips for your first day can also be found in the book Ten Steps to Finding the Perfect Job.

Carolyn Thompson


Lindsay Sellner


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