After spending so many years in school, your first job offer may seem like a final destination. In reality, your first job represents the beginning of your career trajectory, so it is important to choose wisely.
To make the best decision, consider the following factors:
Do you feel comfortable with the office environment? How do employees interact, and what is a regular workday like? Does the organization respect work-life balance? Company culture sets the precedent for both your job satisfaction and how much you can accomplish in your role.
Opportunities for Professional Development
Because your first job is a stepping stone to other opportunities, it is important to make sure it will provide you with the chance to enhance your skills. Ask the company if they offer training, tuition reimbursement, workshops, leadership development programs, mentoring, and a clear track for promotion.
Your salary should be comparable to the industry rate for someone with your experience. It should also cover the standard cost of living and commute related expenses. Research to determine if you need to negotiate your salary.
Benefits could include health insurance, paid time off, retirement plans, flexible spending accounts, tuition/parking/commuting reimbursements, flexible work arrangements, stock options, and health club discounts. Consider the benefits package when deciding whether or not your compensation is adequate and how you can negotiate.
Who will you report to? How will your superiors measure your performance and provide feedback? The manager/employee dynamic can significantly impact your work experience, so make sure that you work under someone who will support your progress and advancement.
Team dynamics can also significantly impact your work experience, so it is important to understand group expectations. This includes how many people you will be working with and how interdependent your work will be to manage your schedule accordingly. It is a plus if you have experienced teammates who can provide guidance during your transition into the group.
It is important to determine how stable the company is and whether it will prepare you for your next career move. The company’s reputation could set you up for future successes if it is doing well.
Consider how much you support, or at least respect, the organization’s purpose and ideals. Your belief in the company’s objectives can affect your motivation.
The location of your first job should prepare you to thrive in your industry. Work in a place that will present you with open access to networking, educational, and professional development opportunities both inside and outside of the office.
Stay in tune with your instincts regarding your interviewers, the work environment, the company’s organizational values, and potential colleagues. Initial reactions can help you decide whether or not the job will fit your professional needs.
To learn more about a company and the factors mentioned above, you can complete preliminary research on Glassdoor and speak with both past and present employees of the company you are interested in.