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What you need to know:

  • First jobs can be daunting but exciting.
  • It is important to approach things with an open mind.
  • We spoke to UAE residents who offer tips for newbies who are starting their careers.

When you’re fresh out of college, nothing is more important than landing your first job. You’re young, educated and ready to enter the working world to build a good foundation for the future.

However, your first job is nothing like you’ve ever experienced before. It can be an enriching experience, but it can also be daunting and challenging for many. Everyone has different expectations from their first job, and hence, have different experiences. Some stay on with their companies for many years, while others quit in months.

So this brings us to the question: How can you prepare for your first job?

Know what you want:

Every job is different and requires a unique skillset. When you leave university, it is important to have a plan. Based on this plan, you can take decisions that help you lay the right foundation for your career. When you get a job, it is important to know what you want from it or what you hope to achieve.

For 24-year-old Mohammad Haris, his goal was to get used to the corporate environment and learn as much as he could from his seniors. He said: “The idea was to grasp and absorb all information that was being transferred. I am extremely curious and my primary instinct was to learn.”

According to American business news channel CNBC, most new college graduates know exactly what they want and have their goals in place.

Like Haris, Dubai resident and financial coordinator Jisen Raj took on his first job with the hope that he can move up in the company and succeed. He told Gulf News: “I want to grow. I don’t want to be stuck in one place. I can see that happening where I am right now so I hope to be useful and gain more experience.”

I want to grow. I don’t want to be stuck in one place.

- Jisen Raj, Dubai

Expectations versus reality:

According to most surveys, millennials have high expectations from their jobs and go in with certain preconceived ideas.

As reported by CNBC, “16,000 high-achieving college and high school students were interviewed” in 2018 and almost 75 per cent of them wanted to work in ‘meaningful’ jobs. They also emphasised on having a “healthy work-life” balance. At the beginning of your career this might not always happen.

Video producer and social media manager Nikhil Wadhwa had a lot of expectations before he started his job and the overall experience was bittersweet.

He said: “Your first job is a big deal and everyone goes in with expectations. You should take in the good things and learn to filter out the things you don’t need. My experience turned out to be easier than what I thought it would be. I knew more than what I gave myself credit for.”

He added that he expected work to be like a movie but it wasn’t. He said: “I have watched The Devil Wears Prada and I thought working would be like that. However, I joined a small company with few people. It took some getting used to.”

I have watched The Devil Wears Prada and I thought working would be like that.

- Nikhil Wadhwa

Twenty-six year old Yamaan Farhat started his career as a teacher and wasn’t aware of how much effort the job would require.

The American national said: “I didn’t like the preparation aspect; the fact that I had to work at home — even during the weekends — was not appealing to me. In the job itself, I also was not thrilled with the lack of growth. In university, you might learn something new every day. A job might not be like that.”

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Farhat said that he had supportive seniors who helped him and gave him good guidance.

Positive or negative anticipation creates more room for disappointment, which is why Haris advises newbies to keeping an “open mind”. He said: “It is important to approach these pre-conceived notions of bad bosses, hostile team members and tedious working, with an open mind before you even start.”

Go in with an open mind. Avoid having a list of expectations.

- Mohammad Haris, 24

The Pakistani national added that television shows and movies paint an exaggerated picture of what one should expect. It’s either “extremely toxic or exceedingly supportive”, which can be misleading.

Team members and bosses:

The biggest challenge for most people is dealing with people in a professional environment. The work place is different from a college lecture hall and as a result, interpersonal skills are put to the test. There is some adjusting that needs to take place and it happens only with time.

Farah Heiba, 24, recently changed her job and is currently working as a segment producer at a broadcast company. The Egyptian national says that her expectations from her first job were realised, “which is an opposite scenario with [her] friends”.

I have always dealt with professional individuals.

- Farah Heiba

She always dealt with professional team members and never struggled with people skills.

Illustrative purposes Image Credit: Stock image

Not everyone always has a good experience with new bosses or teams, and no amount of internships or prior experience can prepare you for something like this.

For mental health coach Shreya Maheshwari, dealing with “hierarchy and managing the politics of human ego” was difficult. She said: “I was used to doing my own projects at university and being independent so coming from that to a work environment was the biggest shock.”

If you’re the new kid on the block, some teams may take time to open up to you, while others will welcome you with open arms. It is advised to take this into account and avoid having a benchmark of what you think your team should be like.

Since a new job already puts young adults under pressure, most interviewees believed that bosses need to step up too.

According to an article by Forbes magazine, good management is critical and most millennials quit their jobs because they cannot approach their managers. Raj said managers need to take time out to train their employees and “be patient with them during the first couple of weeks”.

Echoing the same idea, Haris said: “A company’s asset is its people. Employees will not realise their full potential if they are neglected. The UAE has a diverse culture and promotes living together. While [people of similar nationalities would prefer to work together], it is the job of a supervisor to ensure inclusivity.”

Heiba believes that managers should praise employees and remind them that they are doing good work because they deserve to be appreciated.


It is important to enjoy your new job because it is the first opportunity one gets to utilise the knowledge acquired at university. There is a lot of learning that takes place at work but it helps you better equip yourself for the future. It is important to go with an open mind and try your best to connect with your team and your company.

While Raj agrees that it is important not to “settle for something you don’t want to do” one should not quit when the going gets tough. Heiba advises new graduates to listen to criticism and work on shortcomings. It can be difficult to adjust to working, after spending most of your life as a student, according to Farhat, but the key to success is pushing through. One should never leave an opportunity without making an honest attempt at succeeding at it.