As I enjoyed the Labor Day holiday this past weekend I had a chance to read an article in my hometown paper where the great columnist Bill Kirby shared lessons from some of the many jobs he worked over his life. I thought it would be interesting to go back and do the same for my years in the workforce.
Though I’m only 29-years-old at the moment I’ve amassed a good size resume and I believe there’s at least one lesson to be learned from every job I’ve had over the years. So, with full credit to Mr. Kirby for the idea, here’s one lesson from every job I’ve had since I started working at age 16:
1) The Masters Tournament (First week of April 2002):
The Job – 4 straight 14 hour days in a concession stand at the most popular golf event in the world.
The Lesson – The paycheck is not always worth the work.
2) Video Warehouse (Summer 2002):
The Job – Video Rental Store Clerk
The Lesson – Respect the people you work for and you work with, especially as a teenager. Do your work the best you can without complaining about your coworkers, even if they are the worst. If you do not agree with or appreciate the way they do things now then take note of it. When you progress at your job or at another one remember what you didn’t like about what they did and be the complete opposite of it.
3) Doctors Hospital (Summer/Fall 2003):
The Job – Warehouse Stock Room
The Lesson – Moving pallets and driving a cargo truck, while kinda fun for a season, is probably not the right career for me.
4) Movie Gallery (Summer 2004 – Fall 2006):
The Job – Video Rental Store Clerk (Again)
The Lesson – Do your job right and do it well and you will be respected and rewarded for it – even at a young age.
5) Family Christian Store (Summer 2006):
The Job – Christian Bookstore Clerk
The Lesson – This may come as a a shock to you, but Christians can be terrible retail customers.
6) First Baptist Church of Augusta (Summer 2007):
The Job – Student Ministry Intern
The Lesson – Youth Ministry is more than just coming up with games and skits. There’s quite a bit going on behind the scenes to make every Wednesday night bible study and Youth Camp happen. So the next time you see them, tell your friendly neighborhood youth worker, “Thank you,” for all the things you never see them do.
7) WRDW News Channel 12 (Summer 2008):
The Job – Newsroom Intern
The Lesson – There is an art in speaking to people. Ask the right type of questions and listen to what people have to say. You will tell and understand stories better this way.
8) The Hill Baptist Church (Fall 2008 – Summer 2013):
The Job – Student Ministry Director
The Lesson – There are no small church jobs, only small churches. For even when you’re pastoring a small congregation a true commitment to a minstry job means pouring your entire life into your profession. And whether you see the results or not, the difference you can make upon the world by making a difference in even one life can shake the world for generations to come.
9: Kohls (Winter 2013 – Summer 2014):
The Job – Cashier/Shoe Department Associate/Stock Room
The Lesson – I’ve shared a fair number of lessons from my retail nightmare before. But here’s one I haven’t before: Don’t be afraid to ask. If you want or need a day off then ask for it. Some people are too afraid to do so, not wanting to look like they’re asking for too much from their managers. I know – I was one of them. But you’ll never regret taking time off. You will always regret missing out on something because you were afraid to ask. (This goes for customers too. You’d be surprised at the deals and discounts you can get at most stores if you just ask.)
10: Career Personnel (Spring/Summer 2014):
The Job – Social Media Manager/Payroll Assistant/Receptionist
The Lesson – No matter what your employment situation is, be thankful that you have an employment situation to begin with. Jobs aren’t always as easy to come by as some people make them out to be, especially for people who’ve made mistakes and are trying to get back on track. But if you’re willing to put yourself out there everyday and show up with a “Yes, and…” attitude you will eventually find your way.
11: Stericycle (Fall/Winter 2014):
The Job – Customer Service Representative for a hazardous waste managment company
The Lesson – If someone asks you to go to lunch, say yes. This job was not a great fit for me. I was on the phone a lot dealing with clients and drivers who really didn’t want to talk to me in the first place. It took a toll on my self-esteem. Thankfully, the community inside the office was friendly, welcoming and encouraging. I decided early on that any time someone asked me to go to lunch I would take them up on it, even if I had already packed a lunch. These daily breaks from the monotony inside the office kept me sane during a difficult 6 months. Even you hate the work you’re doing, try to at least embrace the community of the workers around you.
I’ll save the lessons from my current job for another day. And as someone that can still officially be called a twenty-something it’s probably fair to say I’ll be adding to my resume in the years to come.
Hopefully this doesn’t come off as a bitter post. Though I may not have loved every job I’ve held over the past 13 years I’m thankful for every opportunity to be employed. Because at the end of the day I believe every item on a resume has the opportunity to provide not just a paycheck but an opportunity to learn and grow. Here’s hoping you’re able to believe the same thing in whatever job you find yourself today.
What are some of the lessons you learned from the jobs both big and small that make up your resume?