I remember my first job – it was a paper round – delivering the daily newspaper of choice to peoples’ letterbox in time for their morning tea / coffee.

In this digital world where news is instant and accessible on your mobile phone or tablet: it seems ridiculous that this even once existed as a job!

I lived in the UK at the time so getting up at 4:45 am before school and on the weekend on those rare sunny days was Ok – winter when it was raining, cold, icy and snowing was another matter – getting on the bicycle was not fun!

Now a paper-round at the time was not the world’s most lucrative job – you did not receive a lot of money, it was a 7 day a week job, but – it was money. This gave me my own sense of freedom. I did not have to ask my parents for money or wait until my birthday / Christmas to get what I wanted.

So, if you are thinking about getting your first job on a part-time basis while still studying – whether it is serving fast-food, stacking the shelves at the local supermarket or coding for a family friend: there are some insights to think about.

1. It is hard work!

The definition of work is: ‘an activity, such as a job, that a person uses physical or mental effort to do, usually for money’

2. You will have to make sacrifices

You may not be able to meet your friends on Saturday afternoon at the skate park as you have work commitments. Do not get into the habit early of ‘taking a sickie’ – use this only when you truly are sick.

3. Some if not all parts of a job are not that enjoyable        

With every job, there will be a part or parts of what you get paid to do that are boring and mundane – but get into the mindset that you still have to do them, so suck it up – you are getting paid for it!

4. Think about the next step – always

From my paper round, it gave me the work ethic and at least some experience of getting into another job – I stacked shelves in the Fruit and Veg section in a local supermarket, then progressed into being a silver-service waiter, which in turn set me up to become a General Manager of a chain of bars after my degree… always take the experience and work on it.

5. You will change careers more than once in your lifetime

What you may think you want to do – you probably will not do all your career, and this is OK. You cannot plan 10- 20 years ahead as life will throw you some curve balls.

Indeed, long tenure in one job is frowned upon. What once was a loyal, solid performer, is now often questioned: Why have they have not progressed?

We do not need a steady pair of hands – we want fresh ideas…

So, if you are thinking of your first job then some tips are:

  1. Your first job may not be what you are interested in – use it to make money and learn a work ethic.
  2. Be reliable – be on time, be presentable, be ready
  3. Learn!
  4. Figure out what your strengths are – this will help you identify the job that you will be best at.
  5. Learn from every job you have and adapt.

I learnt from my first job – I learnt to get out of my nice warm bed and get into the cold. I learnt that motivation is up to me. I learnt to be on time and be prepared and it has given me the foundations to build upon.

About the Author

Stephen Cushion – General Manager Consulting

Stephen joined Optimum in 2015 as the General Manager of the Consulting practice based in Brisbane. Stephen brought with him vast experience across HR consulting and executive recruitment, having previously worked for a global top tier talent management organisation and market leading companies.