I first started working at the tender age of 13. I wasn’t looking for a job at the time, but the opportunity presented itself and I couldn’t resist the thought of having some money in my back pocket and some experience up my sleeve. Soon enough, I found myself thrown straight into the deep end of the pool when I’d barely gotten my feet wet before. The new world of responsibility and hard work I found myself in was daunting and left me doubting my own abilities.

Now, with some years of experience and a couple of jobs behind me, I’ve compiled a list of all the things I wish I knew before I started working.

1. You don’t know someone until you’ve experienced them shopping during peak hours

Thought you knew your Aunt Cheryl well? Think again when it comes to getting the Christmas shopping done. You’d be surprised at the extent to which people go to when it comes to Boxing Day sales or getting that last Dyson vacuum cleaner at Aldi. Shopping during peak hours sucks a bit of humanity out of everyone, so don’t take it to heart if the person you thought you knew ends up being a monster at the Westfields.

2. You are not going to get along with everyone

As much as you hope and pray, the simple fact is that not everyone in the world wants to be your best friend, and the same applies when it comes to the workplace. Not everyone will have the same interests as you and some will disapprove of how you spend your Friday nights. Despite this, don’t let it stop you from enjoying work and having a good time with your co-workers. Some of your best friends will be made through a mutual hatred of customers who walk in two minutes before closing time and they’ll stick be the friends who stick by you in the years to come.

3. Save as much money as you can early on

Before you have mountains of bills and expenses, save up your money. Start a savings account, or ask your bank how you can maximise your savings through interest and savings plans. Set short term and long term goals. Don’t be afraid to treat yourself, but keep in mind your long term goals like buying a car. Your future self will thank you.

4. It’s okay to say no

Saying no is something that I still struggle with today. I hate the thought of disappointing someone by not doing what they ask. However I am coming to learn that a single person is only capable of doing so many things at once. Don’t be afraid to say no to an extra shift if you need to study, or if it’s your day off and you’ve already made plans. Especially if you’re a casual, you’re well within your rights to say no to a shift you’re unavailable for.

5. Find the balance

Committing to a job requires the skill to manage your time well, especially if you’re a student. Looking after your own mental and physical health should always come first, and a good workplace should understand and respect this at all times. Be careful of getting too caught up in covering shifts and staying back late- as some point you need to give yourself a break.

Header image: laetitiab | @laetitiabocquet

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