Importance of 1st job in shaping one’s career

While the first job for a fresher is nothing short of an adventure, it should also be the stepping stone to a great career.

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People stepping into the work culture for the first time are like artists starting to paint on a blank canvas. Therefore, the first job is crucial in determining one’s future career path. For those entering a professional or corporate environment, their experiences shape their vision for the future. This is where they get to actually apply their skills for the first time and learn how to do so effectively.

As Ravi Kumar, CPO, Page Industries, rightly puts it, “It’s an adventure, because after graduating from college or school, one jumps into an unknown environment. It’s like being in a jungle. While many may have heard stories about it, they may not be entirely sure about what to expect. One does one’s best to learn and adapt to the situation, and this shapes one’s understanding of the industry and one’s place within it.”

It is important for everyone to have clear goals and understand the endpoint of the learning path, and this is where the first job always helps. “One’s first job can help one understand one’s interests and strengths, and give one a clearer idea of what one wants to do in one’s career,” says Rajeev Singh, CHRO, Solara Pharma.

The first job also gives the newcomers a learning trajectory that helps them become more valuable in the organisation. “The first job is a perfect launch pad for one to start one’s learning,” says Anil Mohanty, head of people & culture, Medikabazaar.

Singh also believes, “These individuals are new to the job and have been resourceful and entrepreneurial. They have managed various social systems and processes in the past, in their academic role. Hence, it’s important for the company to give them the right learning with a compelling career path.”

Kumar agrees and says, “It defines their character, shapes their understanding of the professional world, and influences their thinking for the future.” Therefore, it’s important to use the first job as an opportunity to build a foundation of skills and experience.

Singh also points out, “Each industry has its own unique characteristics and the first job helps in adopting those characteristics easily.”  For instance, a traditional manufacturing industry will have a set pattern of processes / systems catering to the manufacturing industry. On the other hand, service industries offer more flexibility and a different value proposition compared to manufacturing. The opportunities and requirements will depend on the specific segment within the industry that the person is joining.

One’s first job can help one understand one’s interests and strengths, and give one a clearer idea of what one wants to do in one’s career.”

Rajeev Singh, CHRO, Solara Pharma

“However, there are three common aspects that apply to all industries. These are, the need for a good manager, mentor and coach; a good career-learning path; and a compelling career path. These aspects remain crucial whether the person is undergoing training or is employed full-time. They are applicable across all industries,” Singh adds.

The first job also serves as the basic networking opportunity for the new folks coming in, especially in large companies. “It helps build a professional network, and enables newcomers to meet people who can help in advancing their careers,” says Mohanty.

It’s possible that the first job may alter a person’s perception of their career or their aspirations for the future. The first job also shapes a person’s thinking and aspirations for the future. One may have had certain expectations or plans before starting the job, but the experience on the job may cause one to alter or strengthen them. “The first job can either make or break a person’s career, depending on how it influences the individual’s future decisions,” states Kumar.

Starting a new job can be challenging, but the confidence gained in doing so is crucial. It gives people the much-required confidence in their abilities to perform well and meet the expectations of the job. This confidence helps them later on in their career. Kumar explains, “It’s similar to how a good childhood with supportive parents and teachers can make it easier to navigate adulthood. If one’s first job provides one with great mentors and support, it will be easier to navigate one’s future career and take risks.”

“It’s similar to how a good childhood with supportive parents and teachers can make it easier to navigate adulthood. If one’s first job provides one with great mentors and support, it will be easier to navigate one’s future career and take risks.”

Ravi Kumar, CPO, Page Industries

 

Every company has its unique culture and work environment. The first job helps a person understand how the professional environment works, which is different from the academic environment. Kumar explains, “In the professional world, it’s all about delivering results, teamwork, and meeting customer or stakeholder expectations. It’s like going from a theory class to a practical class, where one can apply the theoretical knowledge gained.” Similarly, in the first job, one gets the opportunity to apply one’s knowledge and skills and learn new ones.

While it is surely the job of the newcomers to adjust to the company’s culture and functions, it is also the role of the managers to help them do so. They play a crucial role in facilitating the learning of new employees, especially those transitioning from campus to corporate or from IT to management. “The manager should act as a coach and a leader to guide these individuals along their learning path, which could range from one to two years depending on the company’s programme. The learning path should be well designed and supported by the necessary infrastructure,” opines Singh.

It also makes a difference when an employee joins a startup or if one goes for a large company. Kumar believes there is no advantage of one over the other. It just depends on how one wants to learn. In small organisations, one may have more opportunities to learn immediately because of the smaller team and range of different roles. On the other hand, larger organisations tend to have more processes and procedures, which may take longer to pick up. However, they may have more detailed orientation programmes and may offer a wider range of experiences.

“The first job is a perfect launch pad for one to start one’s learning.”

Anil Mohanty, head of people & culture, Medikabazaar.

Mohanty believes that the new joiners should always try and go for large companies. Start-up culture is very different, where everyone does everything. Since the team is small, one may not get timely attention from the superiors. In start-up cultures, one learns from their own mistakes,” he points out.

Kumar points out, “Many young people prefer smaller organisations because the speed of learning is much faster, since newcomers get to work closely with their superiors”. However, he emphasises on the importance of having experience in both the setups. “If one’s first experience is in a large organisation, it’s great to consider working in a smaller or mid-sized organisation later in one’s career to gain a variety of experiences,” he enunciates.

It is essential for employees to have an open mindset towards learning, be receptive to feedback, and be willing to take on challenges. “While the company can provide a learning path and a promising career, employees should also invest in themselves by taking advantage of these opportunities. They should leverage their learning and career path even while enjoying the process with enthusiasm,” concludes Singh.

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