5 Things I Wish I Knew Before My First Job

Tasha Mistry

Spring commencement ceremonies are right around the corner. For many college seniors, this will be the start of their transition from full-time student to full-time employee.

As a recent college grad and new hire, I know first-hand how exciting and nerve-racking this experience can be. This month marks my one-year-and-10-month anniversary working as a business analyst for the platform business development team at Adobe. Transitioning from college to the corporate world was somewhat of a challenge for me. I thought I knew the ins and outs of corporate life, but I didn’t. 

Now, it’s easy to sit back and reflect on what I would have done differently had I known then what I know now. Since I can’t relive my experience, I’d like to share five things that I wish I knew before I started my career. I offer these lessons to graduating seniors who are about to embark on their own journeys as young professionals. Here we go!

 1. You will make mistakes.

Trust me, I’ve made my fair share. Even though you want to make a
great first impression, mistakes are inevitable. As a new college grad, it’s impossible to be right 100% of the time, and that’s OK. No one is perfect! Don’t beat yourself up if you make a mistake. Immediately take responsibility for it, provide a solution to amend it and move on. Always remember to double or even triple-check your work. View your mistakes as an opportunity to learn and grow.

 2. Most of the skills you need are developed on the job.

I hate to admit this, but a lot of your college coursework won’t help you when you start your career. Your knowledge and skill-set will be acquired from projects, assignments and interactions with your colleagues, managers and customers. Stay hungry, ask well-thought-out questions and be attentive. If you pay attention and take your role seriously, you will build a solid skill-set that you will carry with you as you progress throughout your career. In order to better prepare yourself, check out this post by James Adams on
the 10 corporate skills that will help you successfully transition into your new role.

 3. Change happens often.

Industries and technologies change quickly, meaning your projects and deadlines will constantly shift. Learn to embrace these changes. Be agile, maintain a positive attitude and learn to prioritize. If you feel overwhelmed, have a conversation with your manager. There is never an excuse to jeopardize quality for quantity. The work you submit is a direct reflection of who you are as an employee and how serious you take your job. Always put your best foot forward — you are your biggest publicist!

 4. Big data is kind of a big deal.

What is “big data”? If you’re a business student, you may have heard this term tossed around before. Big data is exactly what it sounds like — an extremely large and complex set of data. Here’s the catch: Companies are now able to gather mass amounts of information that they use to gain insight and make decisions about their business and their customers. If you learn how to consolidate big data and make sense of it, you will be at an extreme advantage.

Quick tip: I strongly recommend researching the following analytics tools in order to gain a competitive advantage before you start working: Adobe SiteCatalyst, Google Analytics, OpenX and Tableau. Even if you’re not an analyst, it may be beneficial to gain exposure to these tools in case you are asked to work with data at some point in your career. You can never be too prepared.

5. You create your own career path.

The truth is, the career ladder no longer exists. You have to figure out what you’re good at and, most importantly, what you’re passionate about. It’s important to think about a role that you’d like to have in the future and map out the skills and experience you need to advance to that level. This is something that I personally started to work on and I advise that you begin to think about it, too.

Be proactive. I recommend finding a good mentor, one that works in your ideal industry or has the role that you’d like to have in the future. Schedule informational interviews and network. Speak to your professors, fellow alumni, colleagues and your manager. The more research you do and the more aware you are of your options, the better off you’ll be. You are in charge of your career.

Now you are prepared to enter the workforce well-informed and ready to take on new challenges. Class of 2013, I wish you all the best. Congratulations and good luck!

Katie Ericson


Student Affairs - the First Years

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