Why Getting that First Job is Essential for Students

Not interested in joining the working world? Don’t need the cash? Don’t have the time?

Well, before you rule out getting your first job, it’s worth noting that everyone – and we mean everyone – has had to start their professional careers somewhere. Even the most revered celebrities have had their unglamorous first jobs!

Brad Pitt, for example, used to wear a chicken suit to promote a Los Angeles chicken joint; comedian Chris Rock worked as a busboy in an up-market restaurant; actor Tom Cruise was a bell hop; animator Walt Disney drove an ambulance; and multi-billionaire Donald Trump reputedly started his fortune as a rent collector for his father.

So why did they do it? Quite simply, they needed to – but for two reasons: first, to earn money, and second, to take that valuable first step on the path toward their ultimate professional goal. Of course, while working to earn money is a no-brainer, the idea that work is a tool with which to further your development as a person is something that does not jump immediately to mind. The fact is, while the theory learned in a classroom can prepare the mind for the wider world, and many of the tasks necessary to survive in it, it matters little compared to practical application. It’s a bit like Bruno Mars reading about playing the guitar, but then never actually picking one up! There is something impressive about being street savvy and knowing how to handle ourselves in pressure situations, especially to employers. Experience with people is the key in accomplishing this.

It is the same with the working environment. Knowing how to interact with people is the key to enjoying a successful career in your chosen field.

Leading business men and women will tell you that business is primarily about people, not money. This is because being able to deal with people successfully is what leads to business deals being struck.

In that respect, interpersonal skills like communication, negotiation and understanding, as well as practical personal attributes such as reliability and punctuality, are essential. This experience cannot be gained in the classroom, only in the big bad world itself. A job forces you to step out of the comfort zone that friends and family provide and taste the harsh realities of life. After all, dealing with a boss who expects certain things and who can fire you if you fail to deliver on time is a far cry from simply trying to get a paper written for history class. Being out of your comfort zone teaches vital core values like independence, adaptability, and initiative, all of which are useful to have when embarking on a career after your education is completed.

Armed with these qualities, prospective employers will not only see you can survive impressively in the working world, but also that you are proactive, can interact effectively and can handle the pressures of responsibility. There is an unwritten rule that a first job is one that is low-earning, hard work and, more often than not, is a little embarrassing. Fortunately, not everyone has had to share the ignominy of donning a giant chicken suit like Brad!

Veteran Hollywood actor Christopher Walken was first employed as a lion tamer, while Sean Connery counted a stint as a life guard amongst his jobs before eventually finding fame as James Bond. The best ‘first job’ has to go to J.K. Rowling, the author of the global literary phenomenon that is Harry Potter. She started with a position much more worthwhile – as a researcher’s assistant for Amnesty International in London, gathering evidence for cases of human rights abuse. Now that’s a first job to be proud of! 

Trilingual Career Coach & Recruiter with experience across Europe and Asia Pacific. She is also a speaker for workshops on resume writing, job searching tips, and interview techniques. She travels frequently but you can stay in touch with Eleanor via facebook.com/EleanorHoDotCom

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