Leadership Hacks: Surviving Your First Job

The process of getting a new job can feel like one of the most difficult and stressful experiences.

This feeling is exponentially true when it comes to stepping into your first full-time job. 

Your first job can be an exciting experience, but can also be full of frustration. In fact, 58 percent of jobs started by those between the ages of 18 to 24 ended in less than a year. When compared with 25 to 30 years, that percentage rises to 33 percent, according to the Bureau of Labor. It’s easy to see why this statistic might be true. Ambitious individuals thrive on responsibility, and your first job is unlikely to provide that opportunity. First-time employees are often regulated to doing the tasks employees with more experience don’t enjoy doing or require less critical thinking.  Subsequently, many young adults find themselves feeling stuck and unfulfilled, which is why 46 percent of Millennials cited a lack of career growth as the reason they left their jobs, according to a study by Inc.  

On the Framework Leadership podcast, I decided to ask some of today’s most successful leaders, “If you could give a piece of advice to young people just starting out, what would it be?” I think their answers can help shine a light on strategies that will help those who are just starting out in the workforce.    

1) Bill Rancic, TV host, Best-selling Author, & Motivational Speaker

“I think you have to trust your gut instincts. You have to be inspired every single day, and there’s going to be days that you’re off. But again, it’s got to be an individual decision. I think at the end of the day only you know if you have more to give and if you can keep moving the ball forward. But, you shouldn’t listen to other people because there’s always going to be those people who try to put limits on what you can and cannot do in this world. That’s what you have to be very cautious of.”

2) Julissa Arce, Political Commentator, Speaker, & Best-selling Author 

“There are no shortcuts that you can take to get to where you want to go. You have to go through each of the steps, and there’s a lot that you can learn from taking each step in stride. I think that as women and as people of color, many times we go into this rabbit hole of the imposter syndrome. Like, ‘Do I really belong here?’ Avoid that by reminding yourself constantly of this skill set that you have. Each of us has a very unique skill set and perspective that we bring to the table. Another piece of advice is to speak up if there are things that are going on that make you uncomfortable. Do not keep those things hidden because you’re afraid to really stand up for yourself and to create a space where you feel like you can fly right.” 

3) Steve Saccone, Entrepreneur in Unrestricted Education & Leadership Development

“A significant piece of advice I would give is to find a mentor. Mentors are all around you. You just have to be willing to listen and absorb what the people around you are saying. Mentorship doesn’t have to look like a one-on-one dinner every week for nine weeks. A large part of it is just having a constant learning spirit.”

4) Dr. Rob McKenna, Founder of WiLD Leaders, Inc.

“Figure out why you’re in it. I think so often we minimize the purpose part. Some leaders have not given themselves permission to pause and ask, “Why?” This is important not only for them, but people they influence. I think so many leaders struggle with permission to describe the ‘why,’ because there are bold leaders everywhere. People follow conviction. If you get some people who are willing to change, give them permission to know where they are going and why. Then, folks can make their own choices about whether this is the right ride for them.”

5) Dr. Stephen Burglas,  Executive Coach & Corporate Consultant in LA

“One of the things you develop as you get older is a capacity for self reflection. If I were to give students one gift, it would be the capacity to say, ‘I might not be right, let me look at the other side…let me look at the other person.’ What I really don’t like is how so many young kids are positive that they are right, and the other guy is wrong. That hurts them. Try to walk in the other guy’s shoes and try to be empathetic. It only makes you better.”

These leaders have seen success in their careers through trial and error. A common theme in their advice is the importance of perseverance and belief in yourself. I want to encourage you to view your first job as an opportunity to grow not only in your career, but also as a leader. When you are able to take a look at the big picture, and choose to learn from your mistakes, you are able to become the best version of yourself. Take the advice of these high-level, experienced leaders, and you will be one step ahead in the process.