7 Things I Learned From My First Job
I love chatting about my business and career aspirations in general. But, we all know that we didn’t get to where we are today without starting somewhere. So, when the career site, TheLadders, contacted me about writing a post detailing the things I learned from my first job, I was super excited. What a great way to reflect and reminisce!
If you haven’t already checked out TheLadders, I highly suggest you do! They’re an online career resource that helps take the anxiety out of your job search. They offer all sorts of helpful tools for finding a new job, connecting you with employers, and advancing your career. Plus, their blog is one of my favorite spots for information and inspiration!
WHAT WAS MY FIRST JOB?
Anyway, before I can dive right into explaining what I learned from my very first job, you’ll probably want to know what it is. If we’re being super strict, my first paid gig was technically babysitting. But, I decided to chat about my first real part-time job instead.
In case you didn’t already know, I grew up in Green Bay, Wisconsin. It’s the smallest city to host an NFL football team — the Green Bay Packers (GO PACK GO!). Needless to say, the stadium is one of the biggest draws in our community, and game days can get pretty crazy.
My first job was working at a food counter inside the stadium called “Brett Favre’s Two Minute Grill”. We served sandwiches, jambalaya, brats, and — of course — beer. So, I worked on game days and during special events serving all of these items to fans.
But, here’s the kicker: I wasn’t actually old enough to legally serve beer. So, I basically had to stand there and look cute while someone else poured it and passed it across the counter. I still got to keep the tips, though! Quite a job, right? Someone else does the work while you reap the benefits. If only I could find something like that today…
I had a blast working here — you definitely couldn’t beat being a part of the game day atmosphere! But, looking back, I realize it also taught me quite a bit about the working world and life in general.
WHAT I LEARNED FROM MY VERY FIRST JOB
1. YOU’RE GOING TO MAKE MISTAKES.
Oh man, did I screw things up when I worked here. I accidentally sliced open an entire ketchup bag that proceeded to spray all over me. I almost flooded the entire space by forgetting that I was filling a mop bucket.
But, you know what? You’re probably going to make mistakes at any job. So, suck up your pride, own up to it, and move on!
2. PEOPLE AREN’T ALWAYS GOING TO LIKE WHAT YOU DO.
I’ll be honest — I was a great kid. I was used to people consistently loving everything I did. But, this isn’t the case when you’re an employee. I had customers come back to yell that their burgers were cold or they hated their sandwich. My manager didn’t particularly appreciate the slip-ups mentioned above. Heck, I even had to call security on a few drunk guys that got a little too grabby.
You’re going to do things that people don’t necessarily like. Even today, clients ask for revisions. People comment and say they hate an article I wrote. It’s just the way it goes. That’s the thing about feedback — it’s not always positive.
3. KINDNESS ALWAYS WINS.
I won’t try to tell you that the food stand business was super cut throat. But, I think in the “grown up job” world, things can get a little mean.
One thing that this job taught me is that you’ll always catch more flies with honey. At the end of each shift, we’d have tons of food left. So, after we closed down, I’d walk around with a friend and hand out the leftover food to the security and police officers that had been on their feet the whole game. If we ever had an issue at our counter (and, there were quite a few), they were there for us in the blink of an eye.
Be nice to people, and they’ll probably be nice to you.
4. YOU ARE NOT THE FIRST PRIORITY.
I remember when I attempted to explain to my manager that I needed to skip a shift for an extracurricular engagement. I had anticipated her to be completely understanding (and maybe even nice) about it. But, she was actually pretty put off.
Now I understand that business is business. My skipping a shift meant she needed to find someone to fill in. It screwed things up for her. My schedule and personal needs weren’t her first priority — running a successful business was.
5. YOU NEED TO TAKE DIRECTION.
OK, so I can be a little stubborn. Sometimes I have the tendency to think that I’ve already figured out the best way to do things.
However, when you’re working — particularly when you’re reporting to someone — you absolutely need to know how to take direction. Maybe you won’t always agree, or perhaps you think there’s a better way. But, you’re not the boss! Being able to accept direction and constructive criticism is crucial for your career success — no matter where you currently are in your career!
6. NO JOB IS PERFECT.
When I was younger, I had the tendency to glamorize jobs. I thought working at Lambeau Field would be so cool. I’d be part of the entire game day atmosphere. I’d make great tips. I could talk with my friends that were at the game. I had bragging rights about the fact that I worked at the stadium.
But, there’s always a downside. I had to wipe up spilled beer and condiments. I had to deal with obnoxious drunks. I had to start incredibly early for noon games, and end ridiculously late for night games. No job is perfect.
7. WORK IS HARD.
Let’s just be honest — work is, well, hard work. Yes, maybe there are parts of it you love. But, when it comes down to it, it all takes some serious elbow grease. It’s called work for a reason.
What did you learn from your first job? I’d love to hear! And, don’t forget to check out TheLadders if you’re currently looking for a new opportunity or some great career advice. I guarantee you won’t be disappointed!
Until next time!