Over the last few days, the #FirstSevenJobs hashtag began trending on Facebook and Twitter and as I read through exciting and unique roles that others have had, it got me reminiscing and evaluating my own past. From hot air balloon chase crew member Kane Jamison, to paper warehouse clerk Pamela Lund, spiral ham slicer and glazer Damon Gochneaur, sales associate Rhea Drysdale, lifeguard Karianne Stinson, hip hop DJ Joe Youngblood, horse stall cleaner John Doherty, and many more, it’s fascinating to learn more about the employment beginnings of others and to see where they currently are in their careers. As I enjoyed perusing these lists that friends shared, it got me thinking in more detail about where I began, where I had been, where I am now, what I learned along the way, and where I strive to be. Every experience we have at a job leaves an imprint on who we become and the work that we do. In hindsight, it’s quite remarkable how certain exposures and responsibilities on the job formed future skill sets and provided a better understanding for business and other people as a whole.
Lesson: As a young person at the time, I couldn’t have asked for a better introduction into customer service as I was getting exposed to a variety of people and situations, and learning how to properly handle each. While most customer interactions were handled with mutual smiles, like any business, problems are inevitable and I learned to identify and resolve them on the job. Given the pocket picking aspect of this job, each time I dug into one, it provided a number of opportunities to test my honesty in instances of temptation. While these “bonuses” would have been a huge help to my family and I, the risk was not worth the reward. Do the right thing and rack up karma points. That’s rewarding enough.
Lesson: This job was all about efficiency and being a valuable asset to the team. Being a popular local coffee, donut, breakfast, and lunch chain, my coworkers and I were tested each shift. We had to provide top notch customer service and work together in a quick manner while accurately filling orders to get the line inside and in drive-thru moving along under goal times. From greeting the customer, taking an order, then having individual members of the team helping fill the order, and get it to the customer, our funnel was a multi-faceted operation. One of the things I enjoyed more about working here was the relationships I built with my coworkers and our customers. While the food and beverage business is full of challenges, it provides a solid family like bond between everyone involved. Each shift, you have your station, your responsibilities, and your piece is vital to the overall success.
Lesson: By this point in my life, I had witness some of the less attractive qualities people can possess, however, not to this extent. This role in particular thickened my skin, taught me personally and professional stand tall, and helped me acknowledge the authority I possessed.
Lesson: This role was a tremendous learning experience in human relations, strengthening my communication skills, and further boosted my confidence and strength during challenging interactions. A busy restaurant has an incredible energy to it, however, it can also result in tense situations if wait times are long, if orders are incorrect, and so forth. It’s always a battle for balance to keep the team running efficiently and keeping patrons pleased.
Lesson: Being smaller than restaurant’s and chain cafes I’ve worked at prior to here, I learned more about the importance of growing and supporting small businesses, had the opportunity to see how a smaller kitchen functions, and ultimately, my dedication paid off as I was given keys to the store. During my time here, I gained a considerable amount of responsibility and authority, which was both a privilege and an honor. This was also about the time when I realized I had an interest in advertising. During my free time, I would paint and draw, which my managers noticed and invited me to create ads in local university magazines for us.
Lesson: While I learned many lessons on how to develop, maintain, and grow a team and store, that’s only a part of the larger entity, the biggest takeaway was understanding the importance of and improving my attention to detail. Processes are in place for a reason, to give us the best change of success, especially within a large global brand as this. While the process from ordering a coffee, to preparing, and serving it is simple, Starbucks showed me that it can be much more than that. Strive for more, better, bigger, and test. If it doesn’t work, at least you tried, and there’s no shame in that. See how your employees and customers feel about new offerings. Each test is a learning experience and that knowledge is valuable to any business. There’s a way to do more and still create a seamless process, even when creating a venti, 8 shot, upside down, caramel sauce, sugar free vanilla, 98.5 degrees, whipped cream, breve latte.
Lesson: Hands down, the biggest takeaway from this job was the level of responsibility, strategy, and problem solving that was involved. In my opinion, caring for the health and well being of others is the highest level of responsibility and coming up with a plan to rehabilitate an individual post-op or injury is no easy feat, but it’s a rewarding one. In addition the to medical knowledge and experiences during my time in this role, I was able to dabble in marketing yet again as I expressed interest and was assigned with the task of developing a marketing plan and executing it, to acquiring more patients.
While I no longer work in food, beverage, auto, or medical field, each role I possessed, all of the knowledge I gained, provided an excellent collection of experiences that helped me improve my communication, develop problem solving skills, and discover what I am truly passionate about, where I excel, where I don’t, and ultimately, moved me to launch a business I can call my own.
What were your first seven jobs and which did you most enjoy? And what was the biggest lesson you learned at a past job that helped shape you today?