It’s summertime, which means that a lot of students are getting their first jobs.
What was your first job, and does it relate in any way to what you do now? How did you come to get it? What did you learn from it?
Of course I babysat, pet sat, picked berries, and did housecleaning and car washes for people to earn money, but the first job I actually received a paycheck from was a summer job editing a catalog mailing list for a tool company. If I remember right, I was about 14.
The job involved taking inches-thick printouts (the kind on the green-and-white paper with holes along the sides) and highlighting duplicate addresses or addresses that were clearly suspect.
We also had to highlight addresses (in a different color) that didn’t fit a standardized format for abbreviations. So if an address said “123456 north Fifth Av., Phx, Ariz.” we had to highlight it and note that it should be “123456 N 5 Ave, Phoenix, AZ 85240-1234”.
For 8 hours a day.
This was REAAALLLY boring.
But, it was indoors (important when it’s 110 outside) and it did pay. I was grateful to get the money, and the job.
I got the job through my dad, who was a manager there. The company had a program where teenaged children of employees could work there during the summers, so there were about 6 or 8 of us who participated each summer.
It later morphed into a year-round “temporary” data entry job, at higher than minimum wage, for 4 of us.
It doesn’t relate directly to what I do now, but I can trace an indirect path involving access to computers. I can see growing connections between every job I’ve had.
I learned several things from my first job:
1. To be very patient during boring tasks (keeping the end — my paycheck — in sight.)
2. To work hard and remain cheerful.
3. To ask for what I wanted (more responsibilities, more hours, more money)
4. That it’s good to get to know your boss a little and be on good terms with them. (I still send a Christmas card to one of them, more than 25 years later.)
5. That it’s easiest to get a job if you know someone who works there already.