Whether you’re moving straight from school or college into the working world, your first 9 – 5 job can be daunting. Working the whole day may be completely foreign to you, and it takes some time to adjust. While there are a range of new experiences awaiting you, you will need agility and confidence to meet challenges head-on, and find ways to support your exciting new venture in the world of work.

Timekeeping: You may be used to coming and going as you please – so the first thing you will have to get used to is the way a normal work day is worked around times. There’s starting time (yawn) but you’ve got to be on time. Punctuality is very important in the 9 – 5 world. Then there’s tea/coffee breaks. Some companies have set times for this, or allow workers to get their refreshments as it suits them. But be assured somebody will notice if you take six coffee breaks in a morning! And don’t be too hasty to rush out of the office at official close of day. If something needs to be finished, rather do that than leave your desk in a mess for the next morning.

Show team spirit: Take note of how your colleagues are working, and make an effort to work collaboratively with them. Being helpful and respectful will assist you to build relationships with co-workers – a vitally important part of any job, and the way to establish a strong foundation within the company.

Be open to feedback: You will make mistakes, but don’t let that sully your relationships with others. Don’t take criticism personally. Make sure you take feedback constructively, it’s meant to help you so use it as an opportunity to learn and improve.

Manage time effectively: This is one of the most important factors of any 9 – 5 job. Learn to prioritise tasks and manage your time effectively. Your first job can easily make you feel overwhelmed. Time management helps you to stay focused and efficient.

Seek out mentors: In any job there will be people willing to help you. Mostly they are happy to give of their experience and knowledge. They are usually the best providers of guidance, support, and advice. Remember, your first 9 – 5 job is just the beginning of your career. Approach it with a positive attitude, a willingness to learn, and a strong work ethic, and your sense of belonging and security in your job will grow.

Don’t be afraid to ask questions: Obviously the day you walk into any new job, you are not going to know everything. So be assured to listen carefully, and ask the right questions at the appropriate times. And you never know, your question may voice something that another member of staff may have been too shy to ask.

Take regular breaks: Don’t be shy to take your allotted breaks, and to keep yourself fresh and focused. Your first 9 – 5 day may feel very long and stressful, but keep a steady hand on the tiller. So, take regular breaks and experience some fresh air. A 10-minute break can do one a world of good to clear the mind and reflect on how the day is progressing.

Don’t start the habit of taking work home: Try not to think about taking work home. Sure, there may be times when this happens, but you certainly shouldn’t be shouldered with that level of responsibility on day one. This can lead to mental strain which is not healthy and can lead to you becoming unproductive.

Keep your goals and dreams alive: It’s easy as the days rush by to forget why you took the job in the first place. If you’re working with motivation for a greater goal, this is very important. Time can fade the reasons – and the goals. Keep a diary or an achievement board to keep you reminded of the real journey you are making.

Savings: A 9 – 5 job is probably the best way to kick off your savings and investment ambitions. Organise as much as you can afford to put away in a saving account and preferably also an investment account. You will be building your fortune right there with the secure regularity of a monthly salary.

Keep healthy: Don’t give up your early morning run or your evening workout at the gym after work. If you keep to a sensible regime, you will not only feel better, sleep better, but also be more focused at work. And it’s always noticeable – so don’t shirk the effort!

Eat well: Don’t skip meals because you are too busy. A 9 – 5 job should sit happily in that timeframe. They say if you can’t get your work done in that time, then you are either incompetent, undertrained, or overworked. If the latter, you will pick that up quite quickly – don’t be slow to take it up with someone in seniority. You must be allowed to work reasonably and competently.

Keep up friendships and social connections: Don’t sell your soul to your job. Be available, be present, and keep family and friends and social events high on your after-hours calendar. Be present at work, adjust to meet the challenges of a 9 – 5 job, but don’t allow yourself to become one-dimensional.

Approach everything with vigour and engagement – and your first 9 – 5 job will set you on the road to success through the rest of your career.

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