The Job Search And Career Advice Blog header image 2

Ask Brian- The Importance Of The First Job

April 2nd, 2008 · 1 Comment

Posted by

If you have career or job search question you would like answered on this blog, click here to Ask Brian.

Reader Ken asks:

I just graduated with a 4-year degree and accepted a job offer with a small software development firm. The work and product we develop is uninspiring as is the industry we serve. However, I believe I can gain good experience here but I know I won’t stay here forever. I have a perception that your first “real” job after your graduate can really define where the rest of your career will go, especially in the software industry where skills and experience build on top of each other. Even though I am certain I will be onto another job within 2-3 years, is it better for me to secure a better opportunity as soon as I can? I’ve been here for only 2 months and the pay and benefits are within industry standards.

Brian answers after the jump…

Brian Sayz:

I think, Ken, you might be very wrong about this. The days of a gradual, linear career path are long gone.

It is very common these days to jump around from job to job, even career to career. I’d say it’s far more common for people to have 3 or more different jobs in a decade than just one.

And this extends to the first job after graduation. I can honestly say that I don’t think it’s a common perception that your first job can set the tone for your entire career… even in the tech field.

I’d say it’s expected that your first job might be a bit fluky. Heck, I bet when you ask most people, their first job might not even have been in the career field they ended up in.

The only way this job could have a negative impact on your career (if, indeed, it is below your ambitions) is if you stay there too long. But you already say you’re expecting to leave sooner rather than later.

If so? Great. Gain the experience you say this job can offer, and when you feel you’re ready (or if a better job falls in your lap one day) simply jump ship.

In other words, relax. It almost sounds like you were asking my permission not to “settle” for this job. Well, if you’re not satisfied with it, then don’t settle. Start looking for something better. But don’t worry until then. Get what you can out of this job and then move on to greener pastures.

No related posts.

Tags: Ask Brian · Getting Ahead

  • Jodith

    I have to agree with Brian. With one caveat, that is. Don’t give up this job for just anything that sounds interesting. We’re heading into some tough economic times. You don’t want to jump ship for something that will be gone 6 months from now.

    Stick with the experience and money you’re getting now, and use this time to do some really in-depth job searching. Explore all your different avenues, make sure you have your killer resume and cover letter perfected, so that when the perfect opportunity comes up, you’re ready to make the move.

    I would also recommend trying to save a bit of money in case the perfect job is across the country and they don’t pay moving expenses up front. Many company these days want you to pay for the move and then they reimburse you. So work toward a couple thousand nest egg so you have the freedom to move if the opportunity arises.