What I’ve Learnt In My First Job Since University

Graduation feels like a lifetime ago, but that panic of leaving the comfort of university unemployed and penniless is something I will always remember. When looking for a graduate job, I wasn’t too keen on the idea of a graduate scheme. The idea of moving around within a company, or even the country, just didn’t sit well with me. So I chose to knuckle down to the job hunt, spending hours on LinkinIn and Indeed, with the aim of getting myself my first “proper job”.

Office desk with apple laptop and mac open on light brown desk with text overlay What I've Learnt In My First Job Since University


It’s coming up to just over a year and a half since landing my first job after University. I was incredibly lucky to be accepted at my job around 6 weeks after my graduation, but I know even the job hunting stage can prove tricky for a lot of graduates. I feel that through my job I’ve learnt a heck of a lot in a relatively short space of time. I’m so grateful for the opportunities that my first job has brought me, the lessons I have been exposed to and the personal and professional growth I have undertaken in the last 18 months. So, I thought it might be mildly interesting or perhaps even helpful to share what I’ve learnt in my first job since university.

There’s no such thing as a stupid question

When I first started my job, I was thrown into an industry I didn’t know, with systems and terminology I’d never heard of. It was really scary at first to admit that I didn’t understand, as I was worried my colleagues would think I was a slow learner or not putting the effort in to learn my job, but asking questions is the best way to learn. Your first job is your perfect opportunity to learn as much as you can about anything and everything – you never know what snippet of knowledge you might need in your future career! I also think it shows confidence and good character to admit that something doesn’t make sense, or ask to go over it again to make sure you get it right. You learn more, and your colleagues will see that you are trying to better yourself to ultimately do a good job!

Your colleagues can be your friends

Now I know some people will disagree with me here, but I have personally found it really helpful and super nice to have friendships with the people I work with. In my job, we deal with external clients and sometimes, it can get a little heated. It’s great that I work with people that I trust that I can blow off some steam with at the end of a bad day – and know that they will support me both personally and professionally.

I also believe it’s good to make friends at work as it really helps keep a good overall office culture. If everyone hated each other or didn’t build relationships within the team, the office would be quiet and boring with no atmosphere and what impression would that give to a prospective employee or client? When people get on well, the office culture is light and I believe the team works better as a whole because of it.

Make the most of your ‘me time’

We live in such a constant world nowadays that it can be hard to really switch off. I’m a real believer in leaving your work in the office and not bringing it home with you. I understand that in all industries this may not be possible, but as much as you can I think you should get home and do what YOU really want to do. Checking your emails and working at weekends will eventually take it’s toll and you’ll find yourself teetering on the edge of a burnout. Plus, if you are “always on” what expectations does that give to your employer? Will they then expect you to always work in the evenings and weekends? Could it come across that you are not managing your time in office hours?

No matter what ‘me time’ means to you, whether its a bubble bath, Netflix binge or a night out with your friends, it’s so important to schedule in activities outside of work that make you happy and allow you to recharge.

Exercise is kind of okay (I guess…)

Working an office job means I don’t really get to move around a lot during the day, and I have really noticed the effects that this has had on my body. I’ve discovered exercise is a great way to boost my mood and get my endorphins going after a stressful day, it restores my energy levels and makes me feel like I have achieved something outside of work. When I step into the gym or a fitness class, my focus is on my body and bettering myself, not replying to Susan’s passive-aggressive email.

I hope you have enjoyed reading what I’ve learnt in my first job since university. What did you do for your first job and what did it teach you? Let me know in the comments!

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  1. Elaine Fitzpatrick says

    Lovely post. Im at the opposite end of the spectrum to you having happily retired in my 50’s. I can however agree with many of your comments. These are all ways you grow both as an employee and a person. Mixing with people of different ages and from outside of your usual social circle helps so much. Wishing you all the best in your career.

  2. Lex says

    Great post. I think any job teaches you that it’s ok not to know everything straight in and that all is a learning curve. For me I’ve learnt more than anything that me and my health is more important than any job role. Very inspiring post though. Makes you reflect!

  3. The Daily Maria says

    I graduated from university last year in April and it was very scary because I didn’t know what I wanted to do. At the end I ended up with a job I like but it doesn’t have anything to do with what I have studied. But that is fine for now. It’s my first job and I am learning so much and I am gratefull for it.

  4. My Blurred World says

    Loved this post as always! I got my first job after leaving sixth form and learned that ‘me time’ really is so important. I’m on the job hunt again now but studying an open uni degree at the same time but I can’t wait to get back to a working/office environment hopefully soon. Great post and such important lessons!xx

    Elin | https://myblurredworld.com

  5. Castles and Hurricanes says

    Thanks for sharing these! I’ve struggled with finding a job post-college, so I’ve primarily stayed in small part-time jobs. I’m about to take more classes that should be more specific for a career, so hopefully I’ll be able to use these lessons you learned (especially about asking questions) to help with a real job in the near future!
    I also always agree with ‘me’ time. If I don’t set aside time for myself, I get stressed very easily. Exercise is also another thing I enjoy. I have a personality that tends to overthink and get anxious a lot (so I prefer to move around anyways haha), so exercise really helps me blow off some steam!

    Melissa // https://castlesandhurricanes.wordpress.com/

  6. prettythoughtsx says

    100000% agree with you about having ‘me time’. It is so important! There was a time where all I would think about is work and I would hate having time off because I was worried about what I was coming back to. But it’s always fine! You have to learn to switch off.
    Nice post.


  7. Emma McKnight says

    This was super interesting to read, as I am graduating in a few months, and am quite daunted about entering the ‘real world’! I hope everything is going okay for you 🙂

  8. gmsmith1980 says

    Those are great lessons, not just for a job, but life as well! Great post! This is something that everyone should read before graduating and going into the workforce.

  9. Rochelle says

    This was really interesting to read! I’m in my first year of uni and the idea of being left to find jobs after graduation already scares me haha. Luckily they seem to prepare you really well at my uni so looks like I’m in good hands.

    I totally agree about making friends. Even in my part-time job right now I can say it makes a difference to your work life for sure.

    Chelle | http://www.chellebelle2016.blogspot.co.uk

    • whatabigailsays says

      You’ve got plenty of time! I would recommend going to your careers advice service in your final year too as they can really help with your cv and interview prep! Best of luck 🙂

  10. Jess says

    Such an important post. I’m in my last year of uni now and it’s scary to think about what the future may hold but it’s nice to get these pieces of advice from people who have been through the same!

    Jess x

  11. Jenny in Neverland says

    Great post and congrats on landing a job so quickly after university! Some people really struggle with that so it’s amazing you found something you enjoy. These are great points – although I don’t have a “normal” job (blogging… that’s far from normal for a lot of people) I can still agree with the “me time” point and exercise. I do Yoga daily and it’s hugely beneficial!


  12. Abbey says

    Wonderful post and quite a beautiful experience you’ve had. All the best as you move forward❤

  13. stephbl0gs says

    My first real job was as a news reporter! I learned so much as the rookie and ended up out-lasting all the other reporters 🙂 but then print media died and here I am! Great read! And good luck with all future career endeavors:)

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