First Jobs

Remember your first job?

Like many people, I started working as a teenager. Jobs were hard to come by in our African city, so I cleaned teachers’ houses on Saturdays. Each week as my friends slept in, I would wake up early, walk a couple miles, work a couple hours and walk back.

My first summer job was working in my dad’s office typing documents in a language I didn’t speak. That was an interesting challenge.

Then came college in the U.S.  All four years, I worked on the maintenance department. During the year, I swept stairwells and cleaned bathrooms. Summers I lived in a dorm and worked on a cleaning crew. We cleaned each student room one at a time, working our way through all the buildings, and cleaned them again as each summer camp departed. Believe it or not,  we had a lot of fun together on our crew! (Mark, Jackie, Rich, I still remember our crazy antics… More about that another time.)

I also worked in the dish room, did administrative work for the social work department,  in-home care for a professor’s elderly mother, and made pizzas and waitressed at the Italian restaurant near the college.

You may have noticed that many of my jobs were not glamorous. They weren’t glamorous, and they weren’t high-paying, but I sure learned a lot!  Such as how to operate a floor buffer–you never know when that might come in handy! No seriously:

  • I learned to be disciplined and hard-working.
  • I learned you can make almost any job fun.
  • I learned the value of teamwork and camaraderie.
  • I learned to appreciate good role models, supervisors, and training, because they were not universal from job to job.

What do you remember about your first jobs? What did you learn? As HR people, how can we apply those lessons as we hire young folks today?

Photo by Robert S. Donovan


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First Jobs

Remember your first job?

Like many people, I started working as a teenager. Jobs were hard to come by in our African city, so I cleaned teachers’ houses on Saturdays. Each week as my friends slept in, I would wake up early, walk a couple miles, work a couple hours and walk back.

My first summer job was working in my dad’s office typing documents in a language I didn’t speak. That was an interesting challenge.

Then came college in the U.S.  All four years, I worked on the maintenance department. During the year, I swept stairwells and cleaned bathrooms. Summers I lived in a dorm and worked on a cleaning crew. We cleaned each student room one at a time, working our way through all the buildings, and cleaned them again as each summer camp departed. Believe it or not,  we had a lot of fun together on our crew! (Mark, Jackie, Rich, I still remember our crazy antics… More about that another time.)

I also worked in the dish room, did administrative work for the social work department,  in-home care for a professor’s elderly mother, and made pizzas and waitressed at the Italian restaurant near the college.

You may have noticed that many of my jobs were not glamorous. They weren’t glamorous, and they weren’t high-paying, but I sure learned a lot!  Such as how to operate a floor buffer–you never know when that might come in handy! No seriously:

  • I learned to be disciplined and hard-working.
  • I learned you can make almost any job fun.
  • I learned the value of teamwork and camaraderie.
  • I learned to appreciate good role models, supervisors, and training, because they were not universal from job to job.

What do you remember about your first jobs? What did you learn? As HR people, how can we apply those lessons as we hire young folks today?

Photo by Robert S. Donovan


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