Landing your very first "real" job is exciting and what a milestone you've reached! Sure, you may have had a childhood paper route or babysat for the bratty kids next door, but reaching adulthood and walking through the door to that first major job is a true step towards the rest of your career.

While your expectations may be high, your adrenaline is pumping, and you're full of hope and promise, not all first jobs are a dream come true. Sometimes the realistic levels of excitement and interest level are pretty low. It's just part of the process of climbing the ladder to the next (and hopefully more interesting) point in your career.

But there's no need to get down in the dumps because of a lackluster first job. There's potential to turn that frown upside down and make the most of this experience. You can take the reins and control your own destiny… or at least prevent yourself from staring at the clock 'till it strikes 5pm. Here are 5 tips to making the most of your first job when it's not exactly making the most of you.

Hone in On the Positive

Looking on the bright side can have positive psychological effects. Not everything is terrible about your job, so it's up to you to bring out the aspects of it that are interesting and exciting to you. Perhaps it's those brainstorming meetings on Monday morning where you can hear what the company is planning and what the other departments are up to. Your boss may be a great mentor. Or maybe it's the fact that your office is close to home so you have a quick commute. If your paycheck is decent, then that's nothing to turn up your nose too either.

Similarly, get rid of negative thoughts and constant complaining. This will only reinforce the not-so-great parts of the job and take time away from its better aspects. As per Life Hacker, "Complaining about your job can be fun because it seems cathartic, but venting your frustration will only make your anger worse. Instead of complaining, consider solutions. If you can't change the way things work in the office, consider ways to help you cope with those problems. Being more proactive and less negative may not fix everything, but it can improve your situation."

Don't forget that a first job is a learning experience. Learn to finish the tasks that may not be your favorite, but lend to your overall success. And for the things you truly enjoy? Go at them with gusto to show your manager you're enthusiastic and eager to tackle similar tasks in the future.

Branch Out

Sitting alone in your cubicle all day and never co-mingling with your co-workers can make a dull job even more dreadful. It's time to step out of your shell and learn more about your company and the people who work for it alongside you. You'll become more knowledgeable as well as better-rounded. Plus, your boredom will fade as you get more involved.

As Forbes notes, "Your brain needs stimulus. Try doing your humdrum tasks in a different way, at a different time, in a different seat or with different people." In addition, "Ask your boss if you can alter your workload or the kind of work you currently do." This will allow you to participate in different departments and zero in on what it is you enjoy doing the most.

Talk to your co-workers, learn about new innovations and marketing plans, and stay in the loop of what's happening in every department. This will help you realize that the role you have is an important part of the machine and you'll be able to see its value. Even if you wind up back in your initial job area, you can offer aid when needed and consider a different department when it's time for a review or promotion.

Make Lunchtime Special

When you're not all too enthralled with your job, break time can be a blessing to help recharge you to make the most of the remainder of the day. Take the free time you have to eat a healthy and energizing meal, read a book or the newspaper, chit chat with co-workers, or take a brisk walk around the block.

With some time to clear your mind, you can get back to work with a sense of purpose and stamina. Think about why you took the job in the first place and get back to that mentality after a little time to yourself. Use the break time to think about new ways to approach your job with positivity and ambition. Mind over matter is a useful tool.

Then again, if you get back to your desk and still find yourself in a blasé mood, at least you had an hour off to do something enjoyable!

Put Things in Context

Sometimes, it's all about perspective to make what could be tedious something that intrigues you. This is your first job, so while it may not be your dream scenario, if you place this moment in the context of your life to date and where it's headed, things could suddenly seem pretty darn OK.

As Tiny Budda puts it, "Things may be far from ideal, but they could also be much worse. Throughout the world, there are millions and millions of people who would be confused if you told them that you were miserable in your current job. They're making a lot less money, while working longer hours, and often in far worse conditions."

Think of what you are doing now as a small checkpoint on the list of your entire life. Use what you are doing and learning as ways to better yourself and figure out where you fit into the scheme of things both in the workforce and the universe. While organizing an Excel spreadsheet may not seem Earth-shattering, making a contribution towards the bigger picture is what makes the world go 'round.

Get Creative

You can make your job more appealing by changing things up to make it more exciting for you. You can suggest a new way of holding team meetings or volunteer to work with the interns as they integrate into their respective departments. Think about new ways of managing your time to get the dull items out of the way first so you can look forward to the things that keep you on your toes. Maybe you can get approval to work from home a few days a week or change up your hours so you can do other non-work activities that keep you motivated. Ask to attend seminars or conferences in your field so you can be on top of the most current trends and meet like-minded individuals who can help you get to the next stage of your career.

If your job seems boring, it doesn't mean that you have to be too. Use your inner creativity to turn a ho-hum job into something to wake up looking forward to.

Your new job seems a little more exciting now, doesn't it!?

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Quiet Quitting is the latest trend among Gen-Z TikTok that encourages setting boundaries at work

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Toni Morrison has an anecdote about her first ever job, which was cleaning some neighborhood woman’s house. The young Toni arrived home after work one day and expressed her troubles to her father. But he didn’t provide the sympathy she expected. Instead, he gave her something better — his advice:

“Listen. You don’t live there. You live here. With your people. Go to work. Get your money. And come on home.”

Years later, she wrote about this remarkable experience for the New Yorker and said, in hindsight, this is what she learned:

1. Whatever the work is, do it well—not for the boss but for yourself

2. You make the job; it doesn’t make you

3. Your real life is with us, your family

4. You are not the work you do; you are the person you are

What Morrison so eloquently articulated was setting boundaries. I revisited this piece during the pandemic when working from home ramped up in earnest. Back when work was one of the few things that anchored my day.

Without a physical office, the pandemic shattered the work/life balance for many people. There was no more of that physical separation that Morrison talked about. There is no coming home from work physically. There is no real life to come back to — just a manufactured commute to your laptop in your makeshift home office.

But, par for the course, Gen Z are navigating this boundaryless era using TikTok. While internet gurus promote hustle culture and constant online availability since you’re not getting face time with your managers, there’s a trend in town — “quiet quitting.”


@zaidleppelin On quiet quitting #workreform ♬ original sound - ruby


The trend arose from the depths of the pandemic. Layoffs, salary cuts, and furloughs proved that their employers did not care about their hard-working employees.

The Washington Post dubs quiet quitting as a fresh trem for an old phenomenon: employee disengagement. In many cases, it’s a response to burnout. For much of Gen Z, it’s a way of establishing healthy boundaries in the office and resisting the pressure of the rat race. After all, why work yourself to the bone for a company that just proved it’s ready and willing to let you go?

Despite the term’s negative connotations, Quiet Quitting can provide an empowering shift in thinking for employees.

For far too long, employees have been indoctrinated with a slew of toxic workplace advice. Faced with these old misconceptions and lacking job security or clear paths for advancement, Gen Z is untethering their identities from work.

Quiet quitting — therefore — might be a bit of a misnomer. These employers aren’t completely disengaged. They’re certainly not launching Flight Club-esque sabotage attempts on their employers. NO. Contrary to media panic, Gen Z understands the value of a job — the fickle market they entered ensured that. But they also understand the value of life.

They’re doing what they’re being paid for. Nothing more, nothing less.

According to Chief, a private membership network focused on connecting and supporting women executive leaders, older generations should learn from this approach.

“Gen Z has already endured the largest seismic shifts to the career landscape than any previous generation, having started their careers in the middle of a pandemic that changed office culture forever and a gig economy that makes piecing together work more viable. They’re taking both those realities and therefore demanding more autonomy and flexibility than any other generation.”

Gen Z are less attached to job titles and statuses. They’re more concerned about their lives. Sure, this can lead to problematic outlooks on money and experiences — see the “I can earn my money back” TikTok trend. But it’s better than hustling for no reward. Besides, as some Gen Z-ers put it on TikTok, the office isn’t even a vibe.

“With the ability to work from anywhere and for more than just one place, Gen Z-ers are forging their own paths that don’t rely on old patterns set by previous generations and are redefining what “career success” looks like. Gen Z can take note, as more and more leaders are similarly pursuing multiple income streams of their own through the form of a portfolio career. The way in which work looks like and where it happens is evolving.”

With less single-minded focus on one job, some TikTok business gurus advocate shutting your laptops precisely at 5 pm. And then jump onto your side hustle. Do nails or lashes on the weekend. Become social media managers for your phone. Sell soap on Etsy (again … perhaps not in the Fight Club way).

But this valorization of side hustles is not about hustle culture, either. They say job security isn’t guaranteed. Learning new skills and develop an alternate income stream/s to keep you afloat. Just make sure you’re not left in the lurch. BTW inflation is here. So every little bit helps.

But where do you start? Watching TikToks can only get you so far. Try a course on LinkedIn Learning to sharpen up your skills and learn new ones that you can turn into a verifiable side hustle — or leverage in your job search if quiet quitting leads to … real quitting.

Learn on your own time with bite-sized videos or in-depth courses. Watch them after work, before you clock in, or on your lunch break. Then, after your courses are complete, you’ll have certificates prominently displayed on your profile that prove your skills.