The Highlands Company Blog

Getting That First Job Out of School

business suit out of college


Work?! Who, Me?

You need money, or you’re bored, or maybe you need experience. It’s time to get your first job or internship out of school. How do you choose? How can you make the most of your experience? Let’s face it, some jobs and internships are great. They can give you real experience. Others, like flipping burgers or sweeping floors in a factory, may seem less appealing and offer less. Nevertheless, any work experience can be put to good use, and trying something out part-time allows you to know if it’s something you might want to continue in the future. Let’s look at how to make the most of it.

How Do I Know What Kind of Job to Look For?

The best way to get a job you will love is to know yourself. What are your strengths? Learning about your natural abilities in an objective fashion can open your eyes to avenues you may not have explored. Ethan – the student in our first story – didn’t know that he would be good in sales, but once he saw how all of his abilities fit together, it gave him the confidence to try a new field. More important, he began to enjoy what he was doing and was able to start thinking about future options.

Other important factors are your interests and your values. One new way to land a fascinating job or internship is to look beyond school. What kind of field do you want to end up in? What would you really enjoy doing? Find someone who is doing just that and offer to work for him. Tell him why you’re interested. Do you like working out of doors? With children? With pets? Do you ultimately want to go into fashion design? Mechanical engineering? Do you need to make enough money to pay for part of your education, or is it more important to get a job that will look good on a resume? Each person has a unique set of interests, values, and goals. The job that your best friend thinks is great may be the most frustrating job for you.

How Do I Get A Meaningful Job?

First, do the basics. Start your search early. If you have a good idea about your areas of strength and interest, it is easier to talk to potential employers in the corresponding fields. A prospective employer wants employees who have a desire to work for the company and who can articulate the ways in which they can contribute.

Jeffrey knew he wanted to go into engineering. After his junior year in high school, he talked to an engineering company and got a job on a survey team for the summer. Not only did this fit his proposed plans, but it let him assess whether this was really the career he wanted. Part-time jobs are a great way to try out a variety of options. They offer the best way to make plans for long-term careers because they provide realistic information rather than an idealized version of what a job may be.

What if I Can’t Get a Job in a Field That Interests Me?

Face it – not every job turns out to be great. Maybe you have to get a job close to home because transportation to an ideal job is too difficult. Maybe you’ll decide to work in the family business or take the job that makes the most money, even if these are not the most interesting. The most important thing is to make the most of what you have. If you have a sense of your strengths and a plan for the future, even so-so jobs can be turned to your advantage.

Part-time jobs and internships can be the start of a practical lifelong career path. The first step is to know yourself. Learn your natural abilities. Integrate that information with your interests, values and family background. Then use that knowledge to explore fields that fascinate you and that meet your unique plans for the future.