Share your first job stories

I finished university back at the end of 2009, but I have a lot of friends who are graduating right about now. Conjoint degrees, law degrees, medical and similarly scientific degrees have added on more than the minimum three years for them.

While most have scored jobs relatively easily, some are struggling to get in anywhere. It’s hammered home the fact that qualifying in traditionally safe fields like teaching or law or engineering are no guarantees now.

I’ve been blessed, and in fact, it was a good year to graduate, as almost all my classmates found work fairly quickly. Journalism may not exactly be a growing field but there are still plenty of opportunities for new grads, as turnover increases and more leave the profession after just a few years. Newsrooms, I’ve noticed, seem divided quite sharply between legacy staff (the hardboiled types who’ve done it for decades and are practically part of the furniture) and the young, cheap, fresh faces. And as print, TV, and radio expand online, there are fresh jobs for the digitally-savvy.

We suffered back in 2009/2010 with T out of work, and it put a huge strain on our relationship, but it’s funny how quickly you forget those things. It’s easy to point the finger, but the job market is still tough.

I’ll put it out there. Overall, I’ve been lucky and I don’t think I appreciate that enough. Yes, I worked hard to get where I am, and yes, I seized opportunities along the way, but in fact my career history reads like a pretty charmed life.

2007: First year of university. Landed a two-week internship. That led to a part-time job for the rest of my years of study.

Late 2009: With graduation approaching, I applied for another internship, and ended up with a regular part-time/freelance gig. At about the same time, I was offered temporary full-time hours at work.

Early 2010: Offered permanent full-time hours at work, and later a bump in position title/pay to match. Carried on with side gig in my own time.

2011: Side gig turned into an offer for a full-time role, which I accepted.

Tell me about the path to your first job. I want to hear!

10 thoughts on “Share your first job stories

  • Reply cantaloupe August 15, 2012 at 05:14

    Depends how you’re defining first job. I mean, I was pretty great at the checkout lane at Target back in the day and it was full time for that summer…. In terms of my “career,” I didn’t land a real, keep-it-as-long-as-I-want job until this one, I suppose. And the path went a little something like this: Shell out a huge amount of money for an overpriced master’s degree, make friends with a girl who thinks the program is just as overrated as I do, let her convince me to move to a foreign country to avoid the dried up job market in the states, get fired from job she got me after only 3 months, land job at less affluent school teaching to a rougher crowd.

    Great success! But I am relatively sure that my next real job will actually be a great success, so it’s all good. All roads lead to Rome.

  • Reply Earth and Money August 15, 2012 at 16:40

    In the final year of my degree, I applied to every job posting I could find. It was a tough job market, and I went through at least 6-8 interviews unsuccessfully. In the end, I was able to get a job with an engineering firm because my girlfriend’s father knew someone who knew someone who worked at the firm, and was able to get my resume directly into the hands of someone who was hiring. They don’t lie when they say that 80% of the job market is hidden.

    • Reply eemusings August 15, 2012 at 17:25

      Absolutely – that first job for me was cobbled together out of various duties, and I took it. My current job came about through previous relationships, although they did advertise it as well.

      I’ve had a former colleague complain about how they always look to networks and contacts first rather than advertise, and call it nepotism, but whatever your opinion, that’s how it is. Learn the system, play the game.

  • Reply Carrie Smith (@applecsmith) August 15, 2012 at 16:36

    I’m still working at my first job out of high school (I didn’t go to college but went to a 2 year tech school instead). I worked my way up from being an assistant to a CPA to now being a tax specialist and working as a small business accountant in the Oil & Gas fields. I got lucky too I guess, because I would have gone to school to get the job I have. But I was able to skip all that instead!

  • Reply Sense August 15, 2012 at 23:41

    I’ve actually had to get first jobs in two career paths, so I’ve summed it up:
    1998: two week internship between 3rd and 4th years of college. loved it
    1999-2000: worked for my advisor/another prof, not directly in my field but they gave me refs for grad school. I couldn’t get a job right out of college in my internship field.
    2000-2004: grad school in my field. fell even more in love.
    2004: moved 3000 miles away. looked for a job in my internship field for 2 months. grad school committee member happened to know someone in my area in my field. met with him, he knew someone, met with him, he knew someone who was hiring. had one interview, got the job
    2008: hated the job, decided to switch career paths, moved to NZ w/ ex BF. Ex-BF’s new boss knew one of my best friends from grad school, took me out to dinner the first week I moved here to ask me what I wanted to do in NZ. New boss had an employee studying my new chosen career path. Met with employee, she miraculously ‘had an opening’ for an assistant (upon her boss’s urging), turns out she knew one of my best friends from grad school (a different one). Again, one interview, bam, got the job. she didn’t even check my references…

    Lucky I went to grad school…

  • Reply plantingourpennies August 16, 2012 at 05:08

    Strictly speaking, I got my first job through campus recruitment for Teach For America type programs. But, considering I knew teaching wasn’t a “career” for me, and I got paid bupkis, I think of this job as more a period of volunteer work.

    My first REAL job, then, I got through networking with friends. Out with friends of friends at a bar – one of the guys started hitting on me, but quickly realized I was off the market. However, we still ended up talking about what he did, what my background was, and he said I should apply for his company. I did. I interviewed, and got the job. I’m sure he even got a bonus (not huge, maybe $2K) when I accepted the job and started working there.

  • Reply SP August 18, 2012 at 15:24

    mine is similar to yours. i did a lot of “odd jobs” in college (lab researcher and TA, but also retail and waitressing). i got an internship for my last 2 summers, + one semester (common in my field). I accepted my first full time job from the company i interned at the august before my last year of college, then went off on study abroad my very last semester. Aside from the internship, I didn’t really job hunt at all.

    Moving to cali was a little more challenging. I applied a lot of places and had 2 interviews and 2 offers. About 6 months after I started, the market fell apart and no one was hiring for about 2 years. Instead, it was layoffs. It was really lucky that I got in when i did!

  • Reply What I’d Want to Do If I Still Had Time to Grow Up | Funny about Money August 19, 2012 at 05:39

    […] Down under in Auckland, eemusings asks readers to share their first job stories. […]

  • Reply Funny about Money August 19, 2012 at 08:12

    First job: Reading French textbooks and literature for a blind student.

    First real job: Receptionist for a law firm.

    First respectably paying job: Lawyer’s wife (yup: being a corporate wife is a job!)

    First career-related job: teaching freshman comp in graduate school.

    First job related to a career I didn’t hate: Editing & publishing a university’s research newsletter.

    Too few “firsts,” too little real completion. That may explain why I never earned decent pay despite the advanced degrees, the extensive experience, the track record that looks great on paper, and the list of skills.

  • Reply findingserenity2010 August 29, 2012 at 14:20

    wow, I thought I was one of few out there who’s “job-hopped” a ton. I have since I was 15! and at 26 I can’t say I’ve been in any job over a year or 2. shoot.

    I’ve worked in retail in a small-town shop and a mall, college offices as random errand-workers, a night front-desk/watchperson for a college dorm, and finally a teacher/tutor right out of college. Now I work/slave for a bank. Crazy times!

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