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Lauren & Chelsea discuss the mistakes they made at their first real jobs and what they learned along the way. Looking to make the most of your first career job? Check out this video:

The Financial Diet blog:

Chelsea: Hi, I'm Chelsea

Lauren: And I'm Lauren

Chelsea: And we are...

Together: The Financial Diet! 

Lauren: And today Chelsea and I are going to be talking a little bit about some of the mistakes that we made at our first full-time jobs and what we would have done differently if we could go back. 

Chelsea: Hopefully you guys can learn from our mistakes and not fall into all the pitfalls we fell into when starting your first 9-5 job

Lauren: So I'll start first. One of the biggest mistakes that I made at my first 9-5 job was not negotiating my salary. So right after college I did an internship at an ad agency and I was eventually hired full-time to that job and I was so excited to just get a full-time job that I basically signed the contract on the dotted line like as soon as it was handed to me. So if I could go back I would really have fought a lot harder to get a higher starting salary. 

Chelsea: And I actually have the same exact regret and I think a lot of people do because you have this feeling like you're so lucky to get a job that you don't want to mess it up in anyway. And you also maybe weirdly feel like if you ask for more, if you negotiate at all they're going to be like "Uh, just kidding! You're not hired." But negotiation is universal and it's your right and you should especially do it the first time when you enter into a company because after that you can only get increases in your salary be a certain amount each time, so it's much harder to overcome that initial gap in your salary. And that kinda ties into one of my biggest regrets, which is that many times I felt like I deserved a raise or promotion, but I really just deserved to be keeping my job. It took me a long time to understand that just doing your job adequately and continually doesn't mean that you've earned, you know, promotion or more money, it just means you are earning the salary that you are already being paid. Once I learned that you really have to go above and beyond in order to justify that new role or more money, things started getting a lot easier for me. 

Lauren: So another mistake that I made at my first 9-5 job was just being really timid and being afraid of speaking up to get my opinions heard. Again because I was so thrilled to even be working in the first place I really didn't feel like it was my place to say things that I believed in, that I really wanted to advocate for, that I wanted to be heard. I was just kind of sitting in my chair and always being timid like at every single meeting. And I realized at like a year in I had just become a yes man and I just was kind of executing on everyone else's ideas and never seeing my own through.

Chelsea: And of course you should always be respectful and deferent when giving your opinions, especially to someone like a boss, but that's no reason to spend an entire year being silent just because you're so excited to be at the job. My next regret is actually pretty similar to hers, but mine is rather that when I saw work that needed to be done and that I was interested in doing, I waited for someone to give it to me rather than taking the initiative and doing it myself. For example at my old job, there was a role that needed to be filled that no one was really filling and I kept waiting for someone to come and deliver that position on my desk and say "Here you go Chelsea" like "Enjoy your new fabulous job." But it wasn't until that I actually started doing a little bit of that work and had, you know, a case study to present and was able to go to my boss and say "Look, someone should be doing this... and guess who's really qualified to be that person?" That it became a lot easier.

Lauren: Another mistake that I made at my first 9-5 job was I spent a lot of time daydreaming about this notion of the "perfect" job without taking any concrete steps in the day to day to actually get there. So obviously the idea of a "perfect" job doesn't exist, but I had just graduated college and spent the last couple of years in art school, so it was a particularly rude awakening to have to be at a desk doing the same thing day in and day out. So looking back on it I would have set hard, concrete goals for that 9-5 job and spent my time outside of work pursuing more creative projects and building up new skills and doing things that I loved to get me to that ultimate "dream job"  

Chelsea: I definitely went through a lot of the same things at my first job and I think it's really a rude awakening for anyone to realize that like no matter what the job is, it's boring sometimes. Like, it is doing a lot of the same thing everyday and you have to kind of find your own productive ways to combat that instead of just hoping there will one day be a job that will be perfect everyday because there isn't. My last big regret for my first job is actually about boundaries and what happens when you don't really set them. For example, I used to be the kind of person who would check my email at night right before I went to bed, check it first thing in the morning before I left my bedroom and it really made me feel exhausted and resentful. I realized that I wasn't setting healthy boundaries around what was work time and what was me time and even though that was my choice to do that, it left me feeling really resentful to like my coworkers, my bosses because I was always overwhelmed and it was just easier to blame them than to really asses my own actions. So my advice would be to really figure out what your work time and not work times and don't go over that because if you don't respect it, other people won't respect it. For example, if you answer emails at midnight, people will send you emails at midnight and you can't blame them. You trained them to do that. 

Lauren: Now obviously everyone's mistakes are going to be different for their first 9-5 job, but it's important that you stay focused on moving forward and realize that your career doesn't end here, it's just the very stepping stone of a lifelong journey.

Chelsea: And it's also important to remember that even though it's a first job, it is a job so no matter how excited and grateful you might feel to have it. It's still important that you act like a professional and be treated like a professional. So as always thanks for watching and don't forget to hit the subscribe button and to go for more

Together: Bye!