The Great Job Skills I Learned from my #firstsevenjobs
Inspired by #firstsevenjobs trending on Twitter, I got thinking about my first few jobs. Some of them were menial but served the purpose of generating an income to gain purchase power as a teenager. Others were necessary to save for the pursuit of higher education. Still others just paid the bills. Regardless, every job I had gave me skills and attributes that have molded me into the leader that I am today.
1. Snack Bar/Gas Attendant
My father landed me my very first job. It was working at a variety store/snack bar/gas station. I had that job for 4 years part-time while I was in high school. I learned customer service and communications skills by interacting with customers and sales personnel. Time management was important to gauging when to clean and start closing activities based on customer traffic. Basic accounting came into play with cash and inventory interactions. Most importantly, I picked up on some life skills like how to cook, clean, manage cash and pump gas. Not-to-mention I negotiated days off, wage increases and training development with the boss. These were rudimentary skills that formed the foundation of my professional self.
2. Tobacco Primer
This was the job that exposed me to intense physical labour. I woke up before dawn, put on a rain suit and rode along on a machine as I picked tobacco leaves and got splashed with sandy dew from the plants. Then, when full, I would wrap the leaves up in their leather pouch and toss it on top of the machine and start again. After first break, usually around 9:00 a.m., I would discard the rain suit and continue picking the (now) wilting leaves and bake in the hot sun. For six weeks, I did this everyday from 6:30 a.m. until roughly 4:00 p.m. I would barely make it through dinner and then pass out from exhaustion on my bed not to awake until the next morning. I hated almost every minute of it but am grateful for the friendships, lessons and appreciation that I came away with.
3. Parks and Recreation Maintenance
To encourage the hiring of summer students, the government had a program that provided subsidies to various organizations. My township took advantage of the subsidy and hired 3 of us students for a summer stint. It started out as a job painting playground equipment in my township and then turned into a recurring summer position with the recreation centre. Being in the hub of the community, I met some key people and developed relationships that played significant roles in propelling me forward in my career later on. I enjoyed my job, the people I worked with, the community members and my leadership team. Because of the trust developed, my employer gradually increased my level of responsibility and challenge with various other tasks required throughout the township. I still have him and several other connections from this position, in my network today.
4. Grocery Store Cashier
The importance of training is what I took away from this job. I received 2 weeks of it before I had to do the job on my own. I started in a classroom environment with 7 other hires. We watched videos and had discussions about customer service and company culture. Then, we had several days learning about different produce, products and departments. Lastly, there were countless hours on the tils to practice using them and learn special procedures for different payment methods. In the end, I was confident transitioning from trainee to professional cashier because of the training I had received. Being confident in my position made for a better customer service experience for patrons which, in turn, made for a better bottom-line for the company in the end.
5. Zamboni Driver
I use the term Zamboni here loosely. Zamboni is a brand most associated with ice resurfacing machines but our machine at the township was an Olympia. This was my favourite job. I was the first female in my township to advance to this position and I took pride in that. I would wave at the crowd and honk at children that would stop what ever they were doing to stare at my water patterns on the ice. With this position came the responsibility of being an acting manager when on duty. This gave new skills in overseeing staff, scheduling events, maintaining the facility and troubleshooting issues. It’s a great ice-breaker at an interview to have this on my resume.
6. Primary/Junior Teacher
I taught for a year and learned the most about myself from this position. I learned that I enjoy being in front a class and facilitating. My patience, however, is thin when it comes to 25 small children running around and screaming. I learned that I cannot function as a professional human being on 1 hour sleep. This was about all the sleep I would get after marking, lesson planning and worrying about the next day. I learned that no amount of income, benefits and time off can make you enjoy a job that just isn’t the right fit. As scared as I was to leave the career that I had invested so much time and money in, I had to for my own mental health. And when I let go, amazingly, life sorted itself out and I found the path I was supposed to be on.
7. Employment Counsellor
This was the position that started my professional career. I went back to school (again) and obtained my career development practitioner certification. With this, combined with my undergrad and education degrees, I began to mold my future. I felt fulfilled in my position because I was using skills that I acquired through my education and I was contributing to the betterment of people’s lives. I worked as part of a fabulous team and while I developed my own career I helped to develop other’s as well. For the first time I had acquired job satisfaction and a steady pay cheque that reflected my worth. And it has only got better from there.
What were your first 7 jobs and how did they help to mold your career?