The weeks leading up to starting your first job are both daunting and exciting. It’s the start of a new chapter and for those who have recently graduated, a complete and total change in lifestyle. Most who are lucky enough to have a job lined up, embrace this change fully… but that doesn’t mean it’s going to be glamorous.
The truth of the matter is that most first jobs aren’t glamorous by nature. They are a way to build your skill set, provide support, and learn from the ground up. Starting your first job or starting a new job, can be a total shock to your system. In this type of transition period there is going to be one thing you don’t have a lot of… time.
As with all things new, you are probably doing things more slowly than usual. Very slowly in fact. Every task can seem like a struggle because you have to go through the process of figuring out what someone is asking of you, finding the right people to collaborate with, learn new systems and then (maybe) you can do the task. Basically, you don’t yet have the “institutional knowledge” to work efficiently. This means your days are going to be at least a few hours longer than you might have expected or planned for. You’ll know what I mean by “institutional knowledge” after you’re in the job for a year – it is all the things you that you “just know” about a company or a job. This definitely changes (for the better) as you go so remember what you are experiencing now, is not forever.
Because of the fact that everything at work takes just a little longer, it suddenly becomes obvious is that you have “no time” and yet your time seems to be more in-demand than ever. Time-management is one of those things that you thought you dealt with in college but is now taking on a whole new meaning. When your time is this scarce and valuable, you’re going to be pretty picky about who you spend it with. Use the spare hour in your weekend to get a big group together so you can see lots of people at once. Don’t feel “guilted” into showing up for things that aren’t as important. Unfortunately for a little while, you are going to have to pick and choose – and that evening trip to the gym, dinner with a not-so-close friend, or big plan to take a weekend away just might have to wait.
At the end of the day, it may not be as fun as it seemed and there are probably ways you’d rather spend your time than at work. Even the “dream job” on paper will have it’s good days and it’s bad ones. As the year goes on, you are going to become MUCH more efficient about doing your job and things that feel like a struggle today will eventually be a breeze. At that point, you’ll have new challenges to master. “Free time” will never be as plentiful or the same so one of the biggest skills to learn during year one, is how to manage it, enjoy it when you have it, and create a work-life balance that works for you.