Everybody remembers their first job. No matter how menial or gritty, first jobs are essential for building a work ethic, self-esteem and self-reliance. They’re a first step toward self-discovery and knowing what we want to achieve in life. Check out some of our partners and supporters, sharing about their first jobs:
Deputy Chief of Staff, Communications, Office of Mayor Joe Hogsett - City of Indianapolis
When I turned 16 and wrapped up competition season for my high school dance team, I knew that I wanted a job. To me, a job was synonymous with independence. It would allow me to have my own money, make my own schedule, and meet new people.
I applied at a dozen places and ultimately found a job at a place called Dakota Watch Company – a mall kiosk that sold and repaired watches. I learned how to size a band and work on a team; how to replace a watch battery and manage my often conflicting obligations. It could be demanding and exhausting (especially during busy season) but I enjoyed the job so much, I continued working there throughout college.
You know how people always talk about how your first job sets you up for success? When people say that, they usually mean the soft skills that come with holding a job. For me, my years at a mall ended up being a different sort of leg-up. My first post-college “big girl” job was doing public relations and communications for an advertising agency. My first client? Simon Property Group, the largest shopping mall operator in the United States.
I remember how surprised my interviewers were when I came in and began explaining the unique challenges and opportunities of a mall.
Communications Manager at Goodwill of Central & Southern Indiana
I was 16 years old when I got my first job at the local White Castle. Learning how to take orders and make food was the easy part of the job. The most valuable lessons were the soft skills I acquired that continue to serve me in my professional life today.
First is the importance of being punctual and reliable. I really learned the impact of this lesson when other people were late or failed to show up because I picked up a lot of their slack. Those people didn’t keep their jobs for long.
Another lesson was handling conflict. We’ve all heard the saying, “The customer is always right.” Not to be taken literally, this phrase just means it’s imminently better to diffuse a situation than to agitate it more by arguing. You’re unlikely to change someone’s mind, so make them feel whole, and send them on their way.
Earning $6.25 an hour, I learned the value of money, and since I spent the better part of my days marinating in the scent of pickles and onions, I also learned the value of a good laundry detergent and body cleanser.
One of the things I really enjoyed about this job was the opportunity to work with other kids my age, including my best friend. Some of the people I met at that job, I remain friends with today. I even ran into my store manager many years later, at my ceremony when I graduated from college. And I still see one of the shift managers who works at the White Castle in the town where I currently live, 22 years later.
Sun King Community Development Director
Sun King Community Development Director Ben Shine talks about his first job and how clamato, of all things, plays a part in the story……Watch here:
What was your first job?
My first job was working as a lifeguard in my hometown at the Rushville City Pool. It was a great way for me to spend my summer, and allowed me to save up for the school year.
What were the valuable lessons and skills you learned?
For me, lifeguarding was much more than suntans and blowing whistles. It was looking out for others, showing up on time to relieve the guard ahead of me, learning how to save and earn money. These are lessons I have carried throughout my career, in each job that I have held since.
What advice would you give to young people just entering the workforce?
Take each job you have seriously and treat everyone with respect. In all jobs, there are opportunities for growth, to gain skills, and meet new people who can help you as you continue building your career.
Founder & CEO, NAYR Foundation dba Indianapolis ACE Academy