Five Entry-Level Mistakes

From human resource courses, four internships and two entry-level positions I like to think I’ve acquired some knowledge on entry-level work. I learned the hard way but if you’re reading this I’d love to share my experience so at least one reader can benefit from my mistakes.

  1. Not Negotiating Your Salary – I want to start with my biggest professional mistake which was not negotiating my salary. I was so excited to receive my first job offer related to my major that it wasn’t until after I accepted, I remembered I should have negotiated my salary. I got a decent raise after six months at this job and that’s when I realized that raise probably could have been my starting salary. Moral of the story is do not be afraid to ask for more.
  2.  Working Too Fast – Throughout college I was quick to rush my assignments and was content with any grade above a C. It was quickly addressed in the workforce that quality is better than quantity. It is a hassle and embarrassing when you complete an assignment and your manager has to spend more time fixing your mistakes because you rushed through. If this happens enough, you won’t be as trusted and you will see less work coming to you.
  3.  Waiting to be Assigned Tasks – Through internships and my first job I had a lot of downtime. In this downtime, I didn’t do anything productive and was bored out of my mind. I finally realized that to make the most out of everyone’s time I needed to be more proactive. Look and see what can be done more efficiently and address this in a respectful manner to your manager. If they are down for the idea than kudos to you and if they aren’t then you still probably got brownie points for being proactive.
  4. Relying on Upper Management – I relied on my youth for too long. I assumed that since I was the youngest and didn’t have as much experience, I could ask a ton of questions and it wasn’t my fault if something went wrong. Needless to say, this was an awful viewpoint to hold. I’ve learned in order to move up and not annoy your colleagues you need to be accountable. Now when I have a question I ensure it cannot be answered online before asking my manager.
  5.  Thinking a task is below you – I have had plenty of moments where I felt like I didn’t spend four years in college to do whatever menial task assigned. This is a harsh reality but if you are an intern or in an entry-level position at some point you will be asked to do a task that a nine-year old could complete. At the end of the day, someone in the office has to do the task and chances are you are at the bottom of the totem pole. If anything, use this as inspiration to volunteer for other tasks which will show your talent in areas management may have not known.

I really hope that sharing my mistakes can help someone reading this. Please feel free to share any mistakes you may have made!


2 thoughts on “Five Entry-Level Mistakes

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  1. I’d add that you should be careful about sharing ideas about how to change things or do them better too soon. Many people will take your enthusiasm for thinking you know more than they do and resent it or not pay attention to it. Work hard at whatever you’re asked to do, offer to take on small things first, and hopefully you’ll put yourself in a position where people above and around you will welcome your help and suggestions.

    This can also apply to your #3. While you want to be proactive, until you know a bit more about the job, I’d suggest not just doing things that you think might need doing unless you’ve checked with your boss. Again, you might be in a situation where that’s fine, but often you may be stepping on someone’s toes or causing problems.



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