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Avoiding the Pitfalls of Your First Job

Finally all of your years of school work, studying, and internships have paid off - just make sure you're not taken advantage of within your new role.

Kizzy Preston

February 13, 2014

Avoiding the Pitfalls of Your First Job
Obtaining your first job out of college may be a dream come true. Finally all of your years of school work, late night studying, and internships have paid off. Finding work in your chosen field, and an employer who is willing to hire a new graduate is not always easy. While you want to do your best to make a great impression on your job, there are some pitfalls you need to avoid. Here are some things to look out for as a new employee to ensure you are not taken advantage of:

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Unfair pay

Granted, many entry level positions do not pay great. They most certainly pay less than upper level positions. It is important, however, to be sure that you are being compensated fairly for the work you do. Make sure that you know what the current minimum wage rate is. An employer should never pay you less than the minimum wage.

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Next, research the average annual salary for a person in your state, holding a position similar to, or the same as, the one you have. Knowing this average will give you a general idea on what type of salary you can expect.


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What type of benefits, if any, does your company offer? How long do you have to work before you can enroll in your benefits? Does your company offer tuition reimbursements? Are there retailers around town who will give you discounts on their products and/or services because you work for a particular company? It is wise to learn as much as you can about the benefits and perks you qualify for as an employee of a company.

Know your rights

Most companies have a policy against harassment of any kind in the workplace. They require their staff to go through some form of harassment awareness training. Unfortunately, this doesn’t always stop harassment from occurring in the work place. Familiarize yourself with not only what constitutes harassment, sexual or otherwise, but also how to report misconduct. If a fellow employee or your supervisor does or says inappropriate things, know that you can report them. Find out what the chain of command is within your company and be sure to follow it should an issue arise.

Know your role

As a new college graduate you may be used to working internships where you are paid through experience and not money. In your first job, however, it is imperative that you are paid for your work. When you first begin a job, request a written description of your job duties. This will allow you to know what is expected of you in your position. It also stands as a point of reference, should you be called upon to do more than what your job description details. While there is nothing wrong with being willing to help out when assistance is needed within your company, make sure that it does not become excessive. Landing your first job can be an exciting accomplishment. Be aware that new employees may be required to work longer hours for less pay, depending on the position and company. If you feel the work load is seriously imbalanced to the point of being unfair, speak up. Knowing your rights and the benefits offered to you will help to make your transition from a college student to full-time employee a smooth one.

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