10 Things I’ve Learnt From My First Jobs

Hello, my friends. Unfortunately, my references to work are not just attempts at being “relatable” and “humanising myself” – I do literally have a 9.30-6pm office job and have been working for the past two years. Recently, I stumbled across a post by NataliaTalks about what she’s learnt from her first job and . . . I was inspired enough to steal her post idea. Check out her post here, guys – remakes are never as good as the originals!

So, quick fire, here’s a brief background of my working experience:

  • I did a Digital Marketing Apprenticeship when I was 17, so I started working in an office then!
  • I stayed on at my workplace after my apprenticeship as the Content Marketing Executive.
  • After a few months, I had another job opportunity (still in Digital Marketing, but as an assistant so I would be learning from someone else, as opposed to being in the department on my own like in my first job) and moved to my current job.

I’ve had a few other little jobs in between these; little things like freelancing, data entry – I actually worked in a Barbers once! However, this is the chunk of my main experience.

(While we’re mildly on the topic, one of the things Natalia pointed out was that she found it a little difficult to land her first job because all roles required experience . . . which is hard to get when nobody will give you the experience. I highly recommend an apprenticeship for this reason. You’re trained on the job, so no previous experience is necessary, and when you finish you have a vocational qualification and, more importantly, a minimum of a year’s experience – plus pretty much a guaranteed job with the people who employed you for your apprenticeship.)

Without further ado, let me tell you:

10 things I’ve learnt from my first jobs!

1. You don’t need to be doing your dream job to be happy – but you do need your job to have dream ASPECTS

I think one of the biggest things working has taught me is that the idea of a “dream job” as it’s fed to us when we’re children might be true . . . but it’s not at all necessary. Content marketing (ie. blogging) is arguably my passion. However, I can tell you right now that going to work and fulfilling my passion is far less important to me than things like:

– My coworkers
– Having a nice boss
– A good working environment
– My work/life balance
– Learning and challenges
– Pay

“Fulfilling my passion” isn’t what keeps me engaged and happy at work. I could be just as happy working behind a bar or work in data analytics if my job had these same qualities.

2. To stop playing the blame game & take responsibility

The biggest thing working taught me is that I am in control of my own life, my own decisions and my own results. In school, it’s so easy to blame your teachers, or the fact your school is underfunded, or the curriculum, or an unfair exam paper or x, y and z when things go wrong. Your friends will let you; hell, you can go home to your PARENTS, complain and normally be met with sympathy.

When you’re at work, this safety net is gone. If your coworker drops the ball, you can’t just blame them and say “well, this went wrong because x did y”. If your boss is too busy to help you, well, they’re probably doing something more important and you need to be independent.

And it’s the best thing ever. You learn how much you’re capable of and you stop relying on other people. These are lessons that will massively improve your overall life.

3. You don’t understand what it’s like to be at work and whether you’ll enjoy your day to day until you try it

This is actually a large reason I’d recommend doing some work experience in your chosen field before committing to university; nothing can quite prepare you for work . . . until you get there.

4. Time is a commodity – and it’s a damn precious one

Nothing teaches you the value of time like not having any anymore! Working 5 day weeks on top of running a website taught me to manage my time, but it also taught me how important (and fleeting) time is.

5. Progression is essential in a job

One of the BIGGEST things I have learnt about work is one of the key things to look for when you go into a new job: progression. This can be career progression or skill development, but any job that stagnates is one you’re going to get bored of.

6. Office work is not for everybody and that’s okay

7. Work can be enjoyable and fulfilling

Yep, it shocked me too.

8. Changing your career path and trying new things is okay

For my jobs, I’ve created infographics, written blog posts, managed social media, helped with brochure and print design, created banner ads, helped build websites . . . and various other bits. I’ve got a good range of digital marketing skills under my belt – and one of the biggest things I’ve learnt is that there are certain things I do not want to do.

Moving forwards, I’d like to try different things out – more copy-writing, more working with people – and I’d like to drop some of the “skills” I’ve picked up. (Cough, cough, social media.) There’s nothing wrong with this; you don’t have to lock yourself down into one career path.

9. I recommend starting out in a small business

Generally speaking, because smaller businesses have less employees, you’ll end up with more responsibilities and doing more things (although, I admit, your pay generally won’t reflect that). However, while on the surface this sounds stressful, you gain so much meaningful experience and a way better skillset. All of which opens a lot more doors for your next roles!

Let’s take a look. My first job was in a small business, I was the only one in the marketing department and these were my roles:

  • Email marketing
  • Graphics creation
  • CMS management
  • SEO
  • Social media management
  • Blog content creation
  • Answering the phones sometimes & giving quotes

At my second job, here’s what I currently do:

  • Building a website
  • Social media management
  • Blog Post content
  • Design changes to brochures/banner ads/existing sites
  • Photographing on-site installations

If I were to work in a large business, generally I’d have a set role and I would work within that. While I would quite like that (provided it were the right role anyway), in terms of gaining experience you can’t really beat dipping your toes in everything.

10. Work to live, don’t live to work

My last and possibly most important lesson is to master that work/life balance. Learn to switch off when you’re at home and make sure you’re not too exhausted from work at your weekends. Work hard and party harder, people, or your enjoyment in life will drop.

Okay, my beautiful blog family, I hope you weren’t too painfully bored by this post! What has being at work taught you? Or are you still lucky enough to be at school? Let me know your thoughts down below!


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68 thoughts on “10 Things I’ve Learnt From My First Jobs”

  1. Aw I definitely enjoyed this post, Mia! I haven’t had any jobs yet but hopefully, soon! I also love those pictures you added— you’re so beautiful! Have a fun weekend, girl! ❤

    1. Omg.Your job sounds like my DREAM job!This was really interesting.I’ve just started working as a school-going teen, and I found this super helpful girl!Keep doing you<3

      1. I agree with all of these points! I found it so hard to get a first job because I had no experience but once I did, I found that so many jobs opened up from there. Sure I was paid the minimum wage in cash so I’m positive it did not go through the books but at least I was able to move on from there. And now I have a job I love as a result. Are you going to work when you get to Australia and carry these skills accross? xx

        1. Aw I’m glad you enjoy your job girl! I definitely agree; once you have that first one under your belt, it’s way easier to go from there. Honestly, I’m not really sure…I’m not enjoying my job much at the moment (part of why it was so easy to just decide to up and go to australia) but i think that’s more because of the industry i’m doing the work for and the focus on stuff i don’t like (social and web design). Normal content marketing i LOVE but it’s based more on writing so i guess we’ll see if there’s any openings over there when i go 🙂 xx

      2. This was so so so helpful! I’m currently *trying* to get my first job. I’m 17, so the same age as you when you started your apprenticeship. This was so interesting and helpful to read because I’m just entering this whole process and it is kinda overwhelming. Great post Mia 🙂

        1. Aww good luck girly! What industry are you looking to get into? Online job sites usually have good openings for little to no experience on things like “immediate start” “entry level” “school leaver” “graduate” etc x

          1. Thanks for the advice! I’m trying to get a summer job that I can work at part-time once school begins again. I’m applying for local jobs around my town that need extra help in the summer.

        2. #1 tho!
          I’m so lucky my first job was an amazing one with a great boss and I did pretty much nothing but sit on my butt. I’ll never forget it. It taught me so much and kinda made me want to start my own biz too
          I cannot handle working for someone for more than a year ha. Great post, you always have something exciting to write about xoxo

        3. Not only do you absolutely kill it in that work outfit girl, but this blog is super helpful! While I don’t know if I can see myself in an office job, I know that at some point it might be necessary if I want to do all the things I want to do in life. That said, I’m currently working three jobs at the moment, all completely different from each other, and I absolutely love planning out my week, scheduling all my shifts and coordinating the three around each other as strange as that sounds! The job I’ve been at for the longest, now two years is at a music shop and I’ve finally started progressing into selling instruments rather than dealing with sheet music and coordinating with high schools like I usually do, and I’ve now started receptionist work at a sports physio with one of my best friends, while the third job is with my other best friend and we do UV glow in the dark painting at parties! You’re honestly so inspiring Mia, your work ethic and your ever-growing skill set are things I honestly hope I can work towards, you’re a legend xx

          1. Thank you so much you total babe! Honestly, I’m glad I’ve got the office experience out of the way because – like you said – it’s not something I necessarily want to do in the long run (I mean, I AM running off to australia to pick fruit) but it’s in all likelihood something I’ll HAVE to and I now know what to expect and that I can really, really enjoy it! Um all of your jobs sound really entertaining??? I’d LOVE to do glow in the dark painting at parties like that just sounds like a laugh! And awwww that’s genuinely really sweet, thank you so much girly xx

            1. Picking fruit in the fields of Australia though…imagine the pictures!! 😍 they’re all heaps of fun, ESPECIALLY the glow in the dark parties, and I’m lucky that I work with amazing people at all my jobs who are more like a family than coworkers! Huge part of it xx

          2. Great post! I thought I wanted to be a pharmacist when I started college, but ended up enjoying the tech work much more when I started working (:

          3. Coyote from Orion

            Look after yourself Mia. Capricorn full moon this Wednesday (Australian time)… best wishes x

              1. Coyote from Orion

                No sweat. I mean it. Totally worn out, watching Iron Man 2. Full moon probably means mania… insomnia, etc…
                Either I feel ice cream is inevitable. Anybody says shit about ice cream I shall have to take them outside 🍧🍧🍧🍧🍧🍧🍧🍧

            1. This was an amazing post, and it felt really empowering too in a way. Like one day, I’m going to be that independent, and work, and learn and just progress as a human. I absolutely loved this post!

              1. Thank you so so much, I’m genuinely so glad you think that – empowering is kind of what I was going for. I kind of wanted people who haven’t started work yet to read this and be like “okay, cool, when I get to work it’s not going to be too awful!” x

            2. Nowhere near painfully bored, you did a great job writing this actually. Loved reading about your experiences and learning through you. I’ve tried looking into content writing but they’re on topics about politics or business or medicine etc. I understand the whole expanding one’s niche but I just prefer writing something that meets my forte. Still looking though

              1. Aw thank you so much! Ugh, I feel your pain on that – I was working for a shipping company and now I’m working for an office supplies one. There are loads of fun companies to write for out there…but they’re usually the ones wanting more experience, so maybe in a few years time 🙂 Good luck though!

              2. I loved this! I’m jealous of your job, it seems like a great way to learn more about media! Your points are all so true, and I love that you were really blunt and honest about how not everything is how the world makes it out to be. Also, I agree with you that the work environment makes the job, not the title. I’m working at accounting firm and I actually enjoy it because of how great my environment is.

                1. Thank you so much girly I really appreciate the feedback! And oooh that sounds interesting; honestly, I think that’s one of the biggest things I’ve taken from work: you can be happy wherever you’re working if the environment is right x

              3. First of all, those photos of you are stunning!! Second, I totally feel this post. I’ve worked in retail for almost 7 years now & I’ve learned more about customer service and patience than I would have ever thought of. It’s so essential for young adults to get out there and work because there are so many values to be learned & it can be fun!!

                1. Thank you so much lovely 🙂 Honestly, I think retail is such an underrated career path – like you said, you learn A LOT and gain a lot of transferable skills. Definitely agree with you girly x

              4. Probably my fave post of yours! I relate to this so much! It’s clear that you’re a people person and good for you because I think social media has such a backwards effect on being “social” and creates this facade that the moment you can’t keep up, you buckle and for what? I particularly related to the first point! I can’t say I’m at my dream job but I enjoy it so so much and look forward to going everyday, saying good morning to everyone, making that first cup of coffee, doing my morning routine before I go to work – I LOVE IT. The working environment and people make up for it. I’ve heard horrible stories from my friends who are arguably in jobs that they’ve dreamed of since forever but hating it inside because the people, management and environment is just so bad.

                1. Oh wow thank you! I was really worried people would find it boring LOL. And yeah, I definitely agree with that actually. YES YES YES – exactly that. You can look forward to your job and get fulfilment and joy out of it whatever it is as long as you like the people and the environment 🙂 x

                  1. Glad you think so too! It’s so important to enjoy the people and environment that you work in otherwise it defeats the purpose! X

                2. I definitely learnt about accepting responsibility at my first job, and I think it’s something I have always taken with me. I use to always ask what to do and never take intiative, whereas now, I’m always thinking – how can I show initative? Great post girl! xx

                3. Love this girl! I agree with everything and amazing list <3 Digital marketing is a really good field and am glad you're have chosen something that works for you 🙂

                4. Ugh, Mia, you are an awesome woman. I couldn’t see how this post was boring at all – I think it’s rather REALLY helpful! I totally agree with the points you’ve stated here, I’m more or less experiencing it in my first internship haha. Thanks again for the great post, it was lovely reading <3

                5. This was a very interesting post! Very much enjoyed reading it. I want to be in the tv production world but I have no idea how to do that first step, I have no experience and I’m already 20 so I’m feeling very frustrated. And here in the US I haven’t heard of apprenticeships, I’ll have to look more into that. Nice post again!

                6. I did an internship before I graduated college and it was great. However, the difference between college and work life is really big. I have to look for a job now and now I have to take that step but am just afraid. It gives me anxiety. I loved to read your post 💕 I also find it hard to take a lot of responsibility. Your job sounds really amazing ❤️

                7. Thanks for sharing all your wisdom! I agree that if you like your boss, coworkers, and the general work/life balance, it’ll all work out, even if you’re not completely chasing your passions! That’s the way my job is right now and I like it!

                8. I really liked this list. It is professional and really emphasizes the need of younger generations to 1. Love what they do and 2. Not be stuck in any position for a long time. I love my job and genuinely enjoy going into the office, hanging out with coworkers and I don’t mind working overtime or on weekends because I really just like what I do.

                9. Superb and nicely written , I like especially point no. 2 , yes that’s 100% true , blame games are ok for school or college but you can’t go with it when you’re working. And of course point no. 10 is also important , great post , felt positive and interesting while reading this , good one , please visit my new site http://www.cureandjoy.com

                10. What you’re doing is what I want to be doing! I’ve been graduated from college for a year now with a BA in communication studies, and I can’t land a single job. I feel so hopeless. I don’t even know where to start anymore to find a job 😩 but I looooove your points. I needed to read them. Thank you ❤️

                11. You literally have my “dream job” and it’s great that you’ve been working on it from young. I’ve been trying to get into internships and that for a while, but I’m hardly getting anything back. You’re definitely right with your points and keep doing your thing 🙌🏽🙌🏽

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