Monday, November 25, 2013

My First Job(s)

Linkedin has been running a series of articles recently with various business leaders sharing the story of their first job. It has me thinking about my early jobs, and my early "career" positions, which the placement agency advised me to leave off my resume, not only in order to fit within the 2 page maximum recommended by almost everyone, but also because those positions "date" me.

My very first job was cleaning house on Saturdays for my grandmother, DauDau. I asked her for the job, my first and only experience in landing a position created just for me. I don't remember how young I was when I started, but I know I earned a dollar each Saturday that first year, and I received a dollar raise on my birthday every following year. I think I was making about $10 when I finally gave up the job in high school. I was crushed when DauDau confessed to me years later that I was never very good at the job. I know I liked dusting - removing all of the framed photos and odds and ends from the book shelf, spraying the Pledge, wiping everything down and then carefully arranging everything back in its place. You wouldn't know it looking at my desk these days, but I think I was developing an appreciation for order in my first job.

As a teen, I had various odd jobs, including baby-sitting and cleaning houses, especially for young moms in our church, and during summers, I worked in the fields with my sisters and cousins, hoeing weeds from peanuts and peppers for my uncle. I didn't necessarily need a paying job to understand hard work, however. We grew up with horses, so my regular "chores" included shoveling poop and hauling hay bales and 50 pound feed bags. The summer after my junior year, after an impressive showing with my high school newspaper at the NC Scholastic Press Association convention, I landed a "real job" writing features for our local weekly newspaper. This was huge for me. I was an introvert by nature, and this job forced me, at least a little, out of my shell. I had to schedule and conduct interviews, with grown-ups, in order to follow my dream of getting paid to write. And now that I think about it, I was wrong in the last paragraph, because this was my second (but I am pretty sure my last) experience landing a non-pre-existing position.

It is a shame, really, that we do not talk more about our first jobs when we seek new opportunities later in life. That's where our character is truly formed. That's when we really learn how to serve others in exchange not only for money but for recognition and an increase in self-esteem. My character was influenced by those experiences, just are surely as my skills were sharpened in my later years. And I'm not done yet - I'm not too old to keep learning, "dated" or not!

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