To my son: 5 things to remember about your first job!

Hey son.  I have been thinking about you a lot during the past few weeks, especially now that you have your first job.  This will be a powerful experience for you, and it is important to handle it wisely.  So here are 5 things that I have learned over the years that will help you do just that.

1. Take it serious.  You are being trusted with specific reaponsibilities.  Money is changing hands because of what you do.  You are representing other people in every transaction, every exchange.  Dont treat it lightly, take it seriously and recognize that what you do either helps the business or hurts it. 

2.  The business is you. Some of the people you work with won’t understand this, but whatever hurts the business ultimately hurts you.  For instance, if the business loses customers, the ability of that business to keep you employed may be impacted.  While the fate of the business may not hang on each transaction you handle, the fate of the business may be impacted by the cumulative impact of all the transactions you handle.

3. Your reputation will precede you. The way you do your work will become your reputation, and whether you want it to or not, your reputation will precede you in future efforts.  Employers talk, both inside and outside the company.  You may see this job as a low level, low importance position, but you never know where your next supervisor might come from and who he or she might have been friends with in the past.  

4.  Attitude is everything.  A huge part of your reputation is how you approach your work.  Companies are always looking for people who have positive attitudes, because those people are easier and more enjoyable to work with. When faced with a challenge, positive people say , “Let’s figure this out.”  They complain less, realizing that everyone has difficult stuff to deal with, and that complaining never helps.solve a situation. Positive people are also the ones who typically are given more opportunity and responsibility.  You probably won’t  be happy all the time, but if you can cultivate a strong sense of positivity in the face of challenges, you will be seen as an indispensable asset rather than a necessary evil.

5. Have fun!  This kind of goes along with number 4, which is true.  It may also seem like it flies in the face of number 1, which is definitely not true. Having fun is about enjoying the little things along the way.  I’ve worked some miserable jobs in the past, but I always found a way to both take my work seriously and still have fun along the way.  

This first job will be full of new experiences.  Enjoy it, hold up your head and be grateful for the chance to work, to contribute, to earn your place!  And if you remember these 5 points, the experience will be a good one both now and for your future.