The Importance of Your First Job

The first job a person gets is, in many ways, the most important job you’ll ever have.  If – that is – you look upon it as what is should properly be – a learning experience.

Never, ever look down on any work you do thinking it is beneath you or will have no value you to you in life.  Every task and opportunity can be a learning experience if you make sure to look at it that way.
Take a look at me, for example.  During my last year in college (and for a couple of years after), I worked at a restaurant.  I started out busing tables, then waiting on tables and bartending and eventually participating in buying wine for the restaurant.  This was a moderately upscale seafood restaurant.  Twenty five years later, I can tell you it was the greatest learning experience I’ve ever had, with better “real life” training for my career than any college course or seminar I took.
One day, I’ll write an article that will be called, “Everything I Know About Sales I Learned From Waiting Tables.”  Think that’s not true?  I learned about multi-tasking, and customer service, and that different people need to be treated different, with varying levels of urgency.  I learned how to upsell, and look for signs that a patron was looking for something better than the house white wine.  That meant learning about my products and understanding what they mean to people.  The restaurant offered an incentive for additional wine sales, and that was my first experience with commissions.
Working with different types of people in different positions, and treating them the way they prefer to be treated.  Not just clients, but the restaurant management and ownership; chefs and busboys and cocktail waitresses and hostesses.  One of the first great leaders I saw was the owner of the restaurant, who saw something in me and encouraged my development.
It’s only a crappy job if you view it as a crappy job.  Everything is an opportunity to learn.  And in life, learning ultimately is everything.

3 thoughts on “The Importance of Your First Job

  1. Interesting …one of my first jobs was in a factory canteen.. now there the lessons were a little different.
    Promotion brings perks; each level of the work force had a slightly different arrangement up to the ultimate 'Director's Dining Room'
    The Trades Union Reps did more talk in the canteen than work (they came at morning break and left after lunch)
    All employees in the canteen had to have a smoke break (I didn't smoke but I had to stand outside for three minutes….)
    Mushy peas, gravy, custard and soup solidify on the base of a pan left on a cooker for three hours.
    Work with food and you can stop wanting to eat it.
    I learned how to get along with people who had left school at 14 and who had no education, I learned that other people's lives are very different from my own and I learned to value those individuals for what they were individuals.
    And yeah it was a 'crappy job' but it was a great learning experience


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