A sample of 423 Swiss job entrants reported major change in general, as well as positive and negative work experiences one, two, and four years after finishing vocational training. Qualitative data analysis showed change in responsibility, increase in decision latitude, acquisition of new status (professional work status, full team member status), increased salary, and change in work rhythm to be characteristic for the transition from apprenticeship into "real work". In terms of costs and benefits participants reported transition-specific combinations of work experiences, with responsibility and social recognition as positive experiences combined with high demands as negative experiences. Reports of increasing demands and task intensity were frequent throughout the first four years of job experience. Cooperation and social exchange always were of major concern, both as positive and negative experiences. The number of positive and negative experiences reported predicted job satisfaction over and above previous job satisfaction, background variables, stressors, and resources. Results point to a rather smooth transition, in which negative experiences are embedded in, and outweighed by, positive ones. © 2006 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
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