Training and development terms written on a blackboard

Getting hired is great, but you’ll also want to excel at work and gain valuable skills for future career(s)!
 OK, you’ve got the job. You’re actually getting paid and earning experience! But what’s next? Depending on how you view it, your first job can be a game-changer! It’s a chance to learn important work habits, and you’ll undoubtedly learn some important professional “do’s” and “don’ts.” Most teens will tell you they work because they want money. That’s simple enough and a good starting point. But is that enough to motivate you to work when something else in your personal life is coming up- Like the big homecoming game or when everyone but you is gathering at the latest hangout spot? You might think hard about blowing off work, especially if a special someone invited you.


That’s when work ethic comes into play. Work ethic is a person’s attitude about work. Having a strong work ethic means valuing work for the contribution it allows you to make and for the character it builds in you. A work ethic is an internal value that keeps people committed to their work and helps them stay motivated to do a good job.

You might know someone — a parent, grandparent, or family friend — who has worked the same job or has been with the same company for 20, 30 years or more. Those people have probably been described as having a strong work ethic. That means rain or shine, distractions or no distractions, their jobs meant something to them and they went to work regardless and took pride in their work!

To help you get started internalizing the characteristics associated with a strong work ethic, it’s important to know which behaviors are and are not acceptable at work. For instance, you have already learned that being on time and completing tasks as asked are good behaviors for classroom success. These ought to be things you do for certain on your first job!


Here are some other Do’s and Don’ts for Succeeding On the Job:

1. Do listen to your boss — especially during the early days of your job. Try to understand what he/she is asking you to do and learn to do that task well. Answer his/her questions promptly and don’t be afraid to ask questions to make sure you understand your tasks.


2. Do dress appropriately for you job. If your job requires a uniform, wear that uniform every day — do not dress in a T-shirt or jeans one day because you suddenly want to look different. And if your job is casual, don’t take that as an excuse to wear the jersey of your favorite team or ill-fitting or tight and inappropriate clothing. An important tip: Don’t dress for the job you have, dress for the job that you want!


3. Don’t let your phone or technology/social media affect your job! Tell your friends you can’t accept calls while at work and only take emergency calls. And don’t go on Facebook to complain that your job is boring or that your boss isn’t that competent. You never know who might see your posts. Even if you want to complain that your job is boring, think again. Wouldn’t you rather have a job than get fired?


4. Do cooperate with your co-workers. An important aspect of work is getting along with co-workers because most jobs require a team effort. If your co-worker has a reasonable request for assistance, please don’t tell them that it’s not your job. Be willing to make the extra effort to get tasks completed as a team. If you don’t think a request is fair, pull your manager or boss aside and discuss the situation when you both have a free moment.


5. Do communicate with your boss. You may have been at your job for more than two months and have never been late but today there is a big traffic problem. Give your supervisor a call and tell them you might be a bit late. They will be more understanding if you give them a heads up than when you show up 30 minutes late and tell them about the traffic then.


6. Don’t steal or take company property! It may seem innocent enough if you take a few bottles of water for you and your friends that were left over after a company event. But someone might notice you doing it and deem you untrustworthy. It’s always better to ask in those kinds of situations if you’re not clear. And if you’re working in the food service industry, taking and eating food regularly — especially if that food was part of a waiting order — is likely terms for dismissal. Taking even the smallest thing or item from your job could get you fired. Don’t risk it!


Learning for the Future!

Your first job is more than just that. It’s an opportunity to learn and grow for the future. For instance, you may not plan to work in fast food for long, but there are possible takeaways from your time in that job. Ask a manager to be your mentor, to teach you about managing hours and how to make budgets. Research and study the trends that are going on within that field.

Every job you have should prepare you for a career. Don’t miss out on valuable skills, tips and habits — even in the most unlikely of places!



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