It can be difficult to imagine your career not working out exactly as you’d imagined when you’re just starting out. You can picture the company you’ll work for and the job you'll do. You think you’ll be happy there every day and that you’ll receive immense job satisfaction by doing what you love daily for the 40 years of your career.
But the reality is probably going to look very different. Young people tend to switch jobs every few years. And that isn’t the negative it was once thought to be. In fact, they can learn new skills quickly and begin to earn more as they make their way up the career ladder. So, here are 9 of the work lessons you’ll likely learn within the first few years of your career.
Your dream job might not exist
This is a common problem. You scored what you thought would be the job of your dreams. But the day-to-day reality doesn’t quite match up. You thought you’d be putting all of your theoretical knowledge into practical application from day one. But it’s much slower and boring than you ever thought possible. The good news is that you can (and should) use this time to learn more and network with the people who could help you out later on.
You didn’t prepare for the interview
Every job interview you go to should be treated like it’s your ideal opportunity. You can go to an interview not knowing anything about the company or the person interviewing you. And it’ll comes off like you don’t care. That won’t resonate well at all and you won’t get the job.
You said yes too quickly
This can unfold in two ways: either you’re vastly over- or under-qualified for the position. The former will likely lead to you not being paid enough. The latter, on the other hand, could lead to you not knowing what you’re doing on a daily basis. It could even see you facing disciplinary action and in need of some employment legal advice.
You missed out on a promotion
Sometimes, you can go above and beyond. You feel like you’re doing all the necessary extras. And you still get passed over for a promotion. Someone else gets the position you were hoping for. Now is not the time to give up. This is when you keep doing that amazing job, as well as some extras, so that you'll be in a position to fight for that promotion next time.
You scored a promotion – but you hate it
You thought you’d love the additional responsibility. You dreamed of having more to do and more ways to prove yourself. But once you landed the role, you realised it’s the stuff of nightmares. You have to spend many more hours at the office, while reporting to an uninspiring boss and doing the kind of tasks you most dislike. Sometimes, a little bit of extra money just isn’t worth it.
You dislike your boss
The people you work most closely with, particularly your boss, are incredibly important to your job satisfaction. And, sadly, bad bosses are far more common than good ones. It’s up to you to learn to manage your reactions and expectations. You can’t change your boss, after all. But you can learn to peacefully co-exist.
You tried to hide a mistake
Everyone makes mistakes. But your reaction to the mistake is telling. If you attempt to cover it up, you’ll come across as immature and insecure. If you step forward, admit to your error and pitch a solution, you’ll appear to be a team player and problem solver. And it should be very obvious which would be a more valued staff member.
You messed up an important presentation
Public speaking is not a skill which comes naturally to most people. In fact, the majority of people fear it over death. So, it’s only natural then that you’ll flub a presentation at some point in your career. Afterwards, think carefully about what went wrong and what you can do to improve your next presentation.
You became friendly with the wrong crowd
You spend many hours at the office, sometimes longer than you do at home. And, so, it’s only natural that you will become friendly with the people you work with. It can be fairly easy to fall in with the wrong crowd, though. Keep an eye out for those who seem to have a bad reputation and steer clear.

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