First Jobs, Dream Jobs, Nightmare Jobs

The world of work is full of stories about "my first job" -- how it was landed, how much (or how little) it paid, whether it was the start of a great career or the end of a frivolous lark.

If you're a grizzled workplace veteran, what can you to help those about to take the plunge? And if you're one of the latter, what are your questions?

We're waiting for your input! Click here to join the conversation.

By Bob Greiner |  April 6, 2006; 2:08 PM ET  | Category:  Job Jar
Previous: Retirement? I Don't Even Have a Job Yet! | Next: Time to Go, Ready or Not

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Those figures for median entry level salaries in the Washington area seem ridiculously high. Of all my friends that entered the work force last year there is only one person who makes 50K and the rest of us are below that. It seems quite inflated.

Posted by: CBC | April 7, 2006 02:14 PM

All you younguns - just remember that you don't have to get it right the first time. I'm 30, and feel like my generation has been sold a false bill of goods in terms of personal fulfillment at work. It's called work for a reason. You're probably not going to like plenty of things about your first job. Just get the experience and let the rest of it run like water off a duck's back...

Posted by: JK | April 7, 2006 04:33 PM

decide early about work/life balance
It is something that will haunt you for the rest of your life

What do you want a 50,000 job working 60 hours a week or a 40,000 job working 40 hours a week. Do the math and you come up with a better rate at 40,000 plus a much more balanced life IMHO

Posted by: | April 7, 2006 04:49 PM

I wish that someone had encouraged me to volunteer more right out of college. I completely agree with the above post ("It's called work for a reason")..I still find myself beign disappointed with the lack of fulfillment in my job. And back when I first graduated, I went through 3 jobs in 3 years trying to find this fulfillment -- and I was left with a hidgepodge resume and no clue what I "wanted to do" for a career. Now, I'm learning to distinguish my career goals from my volunteering goals, and I'm learning where and when to take risks, when it's ok to let my passions/personal interests dictate my moves, and when to suck it up and get a job done (and collect a paycheck). And in the end, volunteering keeps you humble and puts things in perspective....which is easy to neglect when you're fresh out in the world.

Posted by: Kim | April 7, 2006 04:52 PM

To eliminate all the "horrors" - - just remember ONE VERY IMPORTANT RULE............GET EVERYTHING IN WRITING - - NO MATTER WHAT. This way there are NO LOOSE ENDS and you protect yourself down the road.
(I had a boss -- that after woking 5 years and expecting an extra weeks vacation THAT YEAR - ONLY TO HEAR MY BOSS SAY - DID YOU GET THAT IN WRITING - I DON'T REMEMBER STATING THAT FACT!!!!!!!!!!

Posted by: Tina | April 7, 2006 05:16 PM

Just prior to accepting a job offer earlier this week for my first "real" job out of college, my father offered me this piece of advice:

"Nothing has to be forever, and while mistakes in judgment can be costly, they are usually recoverable."

In other words - if you really feel that strongly about a position, take the risk and go for it! That way, you'll never have regrets.

Posted by: ALS | April 7, 2006 06:21 PM

The hardest thing for me getting out of college in 2000 was the vast discrepancy in incomes based on what careers my high school friends and I were going into.

A friend with an engineering degree started out at over $70,000 working for a utility. Another friend with computer experience was above $40,000 as an entry-level programmer. Neither of these folks graduated with student loans, either. Both soon bought houses.

Working in a more socially conscious field, I started at $23,000 and had student loan payments of $200 a month. Everyone at my first job either still lived with parents or had five roommates. I knew I could make more money in jobs like my friends had -- even had offers -- but isn't giving up your dream for more money the definition of selling out?

I finally got fed up and moved across the country because the salaries in my field are way too low to survive in the DC area. Obviously I miss DC -- I try to go back to visit friends and family twice a year and check out the Post online every day. But it will probably be another decade before I have enough experience to get a decent salary in my home town.

Posted by: A reader | April 7, 2006 06:54 PM

Greetings fellow job hunters. I would like to share my experience of searching for work in Australia. I have completed seven years of university and I have just defered from a masters degree. The one thing that I have learnt is that universitys tend to market courses to students making promises of full employment in the field upon completion. I have found this to be not the case. Does this happen in the USA as well?

Posted by: Cameron from AUSTRALIA | April 25, 2006 08:05 AM

The persistent post-grad dilemma: I need experience to get the job; but I need the job to get experience.

Posted by: Eric | May 15, 2006 05:12 PM

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