But I think there is more to it than that. At least in my case, those early jobs demonstrate a pattern. While I was earning that little extra side money, I was also learning life lessons that I could apply in later jobs and elsewhere.
Here’s the list of my first seven early jobs before I graduated and went to work full-time.
Dishwasher in a Mexican restaurant – On the first day, while I was washing dishes, it was so hot and nasty in the kitchen that I got nauseous and they had to take me outside so I didn’t vomit. After that, they moved me to a server position. I learned that making money was hard work.
Cook in a pizza restaurant – When I interviewed for the job, I was taking Spanish in school. I put that down on my application. The interviewer was fluent and starting asking me questions in Spanish. I had no idea what he was saying and had to admit that I may have overstated my language skills. I learned from then on never to exaggerate my abilities.
Sales associate in my dad’s company – My father owned a small business that sold accounting software and provided accounting and bookkeeping services. He hired me one summer to make cold calls to construction companies setting up sales appointments for him. I learned that making cold calls isn’t fun, but it’s also not the worst job in the world.
Sales rep selling vacuum cleaners – Very briefly, I sold vacuum cleaners door-to-door. I learned that the company mostly hired young, inexperienced people like me and used us to get the names of people they could sell to. It wasn’t the last time I have come across dishonest business practices.
Cashier in a fast food restaurant – I learned that working for minimum wage is really tough. At the time, it was around $3.35 per hour.
Server in a casual dining restaurant – I discovered that working as a waiter was a great way to meet people. I learned how to communicate and how to deal with difficult people.
Office assistant in college development office – While working in the office responsible for raising money for the business school, I was exposed to the wealthiest people in town. I learned how important it is to build relationships with successful people. They can help open doors. I also saw those people giving back to the community with their time and money.
No matter what the job, there is always something that you can learn and take to the next role and to other areas of your life.
Readers, what were your first early jobs? What did you learn from them during that time?