First job

Get flexible

What’s the secret behind making the most of your first job?

There are so many things to think about when deciding on your first job: Will it be interesting? Rewarding? What will it pay? How quickly can you get promoted?

But a new report from the Foundation for Young Australians highlights another question to consider: How will the experience of your first job help you get your next job?

The report says that you can expect a dizzying 17 changes of employer during your career. And you might end up working in 5 different industries.

So the key to success will be flexibility. In other words, you’ll need skills and experience that allow you to switch easily between careers.

The good news is that training for your first job will on average give you skills for 13 other jobs. But some first jobs are definitely more strategic choices than others.

Robots, inevitably

The report takes a long look at the effect of technology on future jobs. Computers and machines are gradually taking over many of the boring, repetitive tasks that today’s workers are doing. Some jobs are going to disappear altogether. But all jobs are likely to change.

And that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Less time doing boring things equals more time being creative and working with other people.

Maths and tech know-how will be ever more essential. By 2030, workers will spend almost twice as much time using STEM skills as they do now.

But to really stay ahead of the crowd (and the robots) you’ll have to combine those STEM skills with problem solving and critical thinking. You’ll have to be good at communication. And you’ll need to have excellent people skills.

Tooling up

The report suggests a broad range of jobs that combine these essential elements. The list includes ICT sales assistant or support technician, pharmacy assistant, physiotherapist. Other suggestions are statistical clerk, multimedia specialist, and tourism adviser.

The key is to think about the different tasks that each potential job would involve.

For example, working for a marketing company could be a really smart first job choice. You might have to set up a website and monitor user engagement – allowing you to show off your STEM skills. But you’d also have to work closely with clients and co-workers to make sure you delivered the product they wanted. So that’s a big tick for people skills and another tick for communication. And then you’d need critical thinking to develop and improve the marketing strategy.

With that experience you’d be in a great position to apply for all kinds of other jobs.

Check out potential careers here.

– Jon Brock

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