3 Successful professionals share their best advice for people looking for their...

3 Successful professionals share their best advice for people looking for their first job!


This article has been compiled from the answers to the question – What’s the best advice for someone looking for their first job?


1. Tenzing Bhutia, Staff Recruiter, Engineering and Product at Quora, says: “If this is your first time entering the workforce, my advice is to optimize for learning and growth.

Your first job is not your career. It is the first step into discovering your career and, more importantly, your passion. Often, people step into their first job with an idealistic perception of their role but soon realize, and acclimate to, the reality of their position. Don’t acclimate! Learn your way through your first job.

Strive to attain a position with high visibility and freedom. Freedom to
observe how the entire business functions and to learn the different moving parts which drive a successful business.

Obtain a position which allows you to work closely with key players, and understand the traits which make them valuable (hint: most often it is their ability to influence).

Look for a company which emphasizes personal development for their employees. Does the company offer internal training or external resources to help grow your skill set? Are they flexible in guiding you to the right team/position if you choose to transfer departments? What is their philosophy on employee feedback and peer review? Do your research on these topics before you accept any job. It could help you avoid a costly mistake.

Lastly, be honest with yourself about how motivated you are to take on your first job. If possible, don’t let money, family influence, or even fear of being unemployed be your main motivation. None of those factors will make you happy if there is no intrinsic motivation.

Some practical advice:

  • Always send thank you notes after your interview.
  • Be punctual.
  • Always be respectful (even if you don’t get the job).”

2. Auren Hoffman (started and sold 5 companies), writes: “The most important thing to optimize for on your first job is growth. Growth is king, queen, and emperor combined.  Optimize for growth above compensation, above location, above lifestyle, and above anything else.

Getting a young person on a high growth path will set that person up for success much more so than even the quality of the university they attended.  That’s because so many super talented people grow way more slowly than their potential.

In your first job, you should be growing at least 25%/year.  That means at the end of the first year, you are at least 25% better and by the first three years you are roughly twice as good.  Unfortunately, most people grow way slower than that.

When you are old (like me) and presumably at a much higher base, growing at 10%/year is very acceptable (because the raw growth off of the bigger base is so big).   But early in your career you need to grow much faster to get to that very high base.

Your compensation change should lag your growth — but there will likely be a correlation.  If you are growing at 30%/year you likely are getting a higher percentage raise than if you are growing at 10%/year.

3. Annabell Satterfield, Product Manager, Growth @BitTorrent, says: “When choosing a company/role at this stage, prioritize learning above all other criteria.  Basically think about the early part of your career as your time to invest in yourself.  This is the time to sow.  You are building up your value in the marketplace- building/proving out frameworks,  building out a point of view on best practice, and learning how to solve problems.  You and your future employers/co-founders/investors will reap the benefits of all of this investment later.

I approach career decisions like “who should I work for”–  by asking myself two questions: (1) Where am I in my career? (2)  What do I value (this is a bit different for everyone)

Me- mid-stage:

  • Learning.
  • Autonomy.
  • I can make an impact I can talk about.
  • Great team environment.
  • Trusted leadership.
  • Great manager.
  • I believe in the mission of the company.
  • Culture.
  • Salary/stock (I do know my value, though, and expect that to be acknowledged in my compensation).
  • Brand (At first.  I would expect to make a difference here, as I’m in growth).

    New grad example (adjust as you please):

  • Learning, learning, learning (best practice, the people around me are smart/I can learn from them, there are opportunities to widen my skill-set/grow/get exposure to other functions.  You can see how starting out at a company like Google would be extremely valuable here at this stage of your career-  and not for the brand name.)
  • Great manager (who can mentor/coach me).
  • Great team environment (so I’ll be happy in my first real job)
  • Trusted leadership.
  • Brand (yes, there is a place for that).
  • Culture.
  • Autonomy (so I can learn to take risks).
  • I believe in the mission of the company.
  • I can make an impact I can talk about.
  • Salary/stock (Within reason, this should not be the biggest thing on your mind right now. And you do NOT have to disclose your prior salary- remember that.)




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