Finding a first job in which you can be yourself

By: Nyla Naseer, Student Voices writer

How many people do you know who complain about their jobs? Quite a few I imagine: I know I do. When comes to unpicking what actually makes people feel dissatisfied there are many reasons, from low pay to a lack of appreciation. There is one factor, however that is often neglected and that can make the difference between job satisfaction and discontent. That factor is the extent to which you can ‘be yourself’.

When you are thinking about which career to follow it is important to choose a sector that chimes with your personality. So, if you are gregarious and loud, a sector where being very outgoing is a no-no, such as counselling, may not be a good fit. Lots of professional jobs require you to be able to write effectively but some require more desk-work than others. Check how much report-writing is expected if this is a big deal for you.

Let’s imagine that you have not made a dreadful mistake in your choice of degree and are confident that the sector you have your sights on is the right one for you. The next challenge is to find a company or organisation where you can actually show your true colours personality-wise. To help with this try and find out how other employees describe the culture: is it open and accepting of difference or hierarchical and rigid? Is the team one where you will be respected and nurtured? Although the temptation may be there to just apply for anything and everything when you are just starting out, it is wise to be as discerning as you can, as one bad experience can have an impact on your future choices.

However, whilst it is good to seek an employer that accepts and values you, don’t be unrealistic about this. Most professional jobs involve a great deal of ongoing learning that involves a certain expected loss of freedom, especially at the start of your career. As a junior lawyer or doctor, for example you will be undergoing the earnest gathering of knowledge and experience that gives you credibility.

Even in the most serious jobs you should still have the freedom to express your personality within the limits of the role. In particular, it is right that everyone can make valid comments and be encouraged to add to ideas, whatever their status and without feeling inhibited. Feeling confident about being yourself is a great way to continue throughout your career.

Meet the author:

Nyla Naseer

Nyla Naseer
Nyla Naseer has an interest in ensuring that students are able to succeed. She has held senior roles in education and professional skills. She has an LLM (Master of Law) degree, an MSc in Regeneration, a first degree in Management Science and a PGCE. Nyla has a focus on enabling people to achieve their academic and professional ambitions and is the founder of Advance Merit, a higher education and professional career tutor agency.

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