A Guide to First Jobs

As someone who lives in a touristy beach town, I have been expected to work every summer since I was about twelve years old. Everyone that lives year-round in my shore town shares this mentality, and nearly every teen has a summer job. I started working on-and-off at age ten, since my parents own a restaurant that would get very crowded in the summer. I started my first real job at twelve years old, working for a small breakfast place inside of a hotel. I had the job of making coffee and getting drinks for the servers. The job wasn’t too brutal, and I still had most of the summer to do what I pleased. As someone who grew up in a business, I was used to the fast-paced lifestyle of working, and I knew what was expected of me at this job. After this job, I’d work nearly every summer for the next six years. I worked everywhere, from restaurants to cleaning services to ice cream chains. Last summer, I worked seventeen hours a day at two different jobs, working as much as I could to keep busy and to make as much money as I could. With all of this work experience, I believe I have gained some fairly decent knowledge about working and what you should and shouldn’t do. 

Don’t be nervous. First jobs can be terrifying. Even if you have previous experience, your first day at a new job can be nerve-wracking. But while it may seem scary, this feeling should only last a day or two. When I feel anxious at a new job, I just think about how the feeling will be gone in a week. If you end up having a panic attack at work, which I have experienced before, just go to an area where you feel safe or run to the bathroom. Most times, your coworkers will be understanding. Your health is more important, so make sure you take care of yourself.

Don’t work yourself too hard in the beginning. When you first get a job, you’re going to want to make as much money as you can. Don’t pick up the maximum amount of shifts in the beginning—you will burn yourself out. You need to take time for yourself. Once you get comfortable with the job, you can start to pick up more shifts. Don’t take too many in the beginning, because your employers will expect this behavior from you all of the time. Pace yourself, and make sure you take what you can handle. 

Don’t spend all of your money at once. SAVE YOUR MONEY! This is one of the most important tips on this list. I know having money makes shopping all the more tempting, but trust me, saving your money is far more rewarding. 

Don’t be afraid to quit. If you feel like you need to quit, do it. If the job is too hard, you hate the people there, or you have a conflicting schedule, quit. If the job is interfering with your life, you can quit. Most times, the employer will understand. Just make sure you give two weeks notice, and it will all be okay. If you get anxiety when doing this, just make sure you pull your employer aside. It’s better to do this in person, even though it seems scary.

First jobs can be hard work, but they’re very rewarding: they prepare you for your career. They get you ready to go into the workplace and enforce strong morals. They can be scary, of course, but they’re so beneficial.

By Bridget Fitzpatrick
Illustration by Laura Oyuela

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