How To Nail Your First ‘Proper’ Job In Your 20’s

Getting the right start in your first job is an important way to kick-start your career in your 20’s.

Your 20’s is such a great time for firsts. Your first job, car, house, 6 pack. The potential list is endless. But your first job is one of the most important firsts.

I have written this article in response to some interns on Bondi Beauty who will soon be starting their first jobs, and asked me for some advice.

woman dressed up for her first job walking down stairs
Successful Dressing, image courtesy of Harper Bazaar and Pinterest.
  1. Be gracious; Millenials don’t have a great reputation for being grateful, appreciative or gracious. Many bosses say “they wan to run the company and they have been here 6 months”. When you’re starting out it’s important to recognise you’re just starting out. You have a long way to go. When I started on television at 21, my then boss told me to remember I’m a junior burger, and it takes years to progress to a Big Mac. He was right! Just enjoy where you are at right now and don’t look too far ahead yet.
  2. Know the company; Become the expert on everything to do with the business. Who owns it? What’s their story? Whats the future of the business? What’s the philanthropic angle of the business? Who are the biggest competitors? How many employees are there? The more you know, the more you know, and that will help you understand where you are, and your role within the company.
  3. Be open minded in business; Ask anyone and everyone about their career trajectory and they will tell you their journey took many twists and turns. This is normal. Just because you start out in one job, doesn’t mean you will stay in that area, role, business or even industry. Stay open minded to other jobs within the company and careers within or outside the company so that you are informed if and when you want to move up. Listen to people around you and understand their jobs and how they fit in to the bigger picture of the company.
  4. Always dress well: Old fashioned advice but true. Appearances matter. Clean shoes, brushed hair, natural makeup and clothes that fit well are all important to make a good impression.
  5. Always be on time. And don’t rush out the door at the end of the day. Again, pretty old fashioned advice but it’s so important to show respect for any opportunity you have been given by turning up on time.
  6. Get off your phone; There is nothing more frustrating for your boss or more disrespectful than to sit around on your phone at work. You need to be disciplined and get off it. Especially in meetings. 
  7. Don’t be afraid to ask the dumb questions: The smartest people ask the most basic questions. You can’t be expected to know everything, and the way you find out is by asking. Your superiors will respect you for being interested and engaged. 
  8. Watch your behaviour at after work parties; The new kid on the block is always intriguing to existing staffers, and most industries have plenty of partying going on. But make sure you limit yourself and don’t become the class clown at work events. Save the hard partying for your friends you do not work with.
  9. Take work friendships slowly: It’s important to maintain boundaries between work friends and your out of work friends. And absolutely do not date anyone from work in your first job. It’s just not going to help you on any level. If he is the right guy, he will wait until you are in your next job.
  10. Be strategic; Whilst keeping work relationships professional is important, listening and learning to and from those around you is important. 
  11. Develop a side hustle ASAP; Having one job and one career trajectory wasn’t enough 20 years ago and definitely isn’t enough now. Jobs and careers are unpredictable at best and unstable at worst. Having a side hustle, ideally something you’re passionate about is a really smart idea.
  12. Read ‘how to win friends and influence people.’ This is one of the world’s greatest books on how to relate to and win over other people both in and out of the work place. It is also the first place to start to help establish a group of core people in your industry who you will ideally work with and support in your future career moves. 
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Renae Leith-Manos

Editor and Founder of Bondi Beauty

Renae Leith-Manos loves fitness, new beauty products, long chats and long flights. She is at her best when traveling the world writing about luxury hotels and Michelin Star restaurants ( She has had a colourful media career as a journalist inmagazines and newspapers, in Australia and Asia. She spends her time writing, cooking, consulting to new businesses, running and working out.

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