Do you remember your first job? Whether it launched you to where you are today or had nothing to do with your current career, there are always valuable lessons learned in the workplace.
In honor of Labor Day, and to give you some Labor Day inspiration, we asked the iHire team what their first jobs were – what they did, what they learned, what they loved, and what they didn’t. Check out this list of some of the best first jobs (and some of the not-so-great first jobs) to get to know the iHire team better and find out where we started.
My first job was a paper route in my neighborhood. I delivered the newspaper in Angola, IN at the age of nine. I learned that it was important to maintain your responsibilities and take care of your own business. I also learned that riding a bike on ice and snow with bags full of newspapers was a bad idea. I loved being able to get out twice a week and exercise for money. It was a great opportunity to establish discipline and structure at a young age.
My first job as a teenager was the Easter Bunny in the mall. In some ways, it was the best first job because I was so carefree and it was really fun. I have considered being a mascot for a few local teams to get that magic back.
To complete an 8-hour shift, you would be the bunny for 4 hours, go change out of the suit, and then you were the picture taker. At the end of my shift, when walking to change, I’d often dance around the mall. I’d do the running man and the crowd loved it.
Here are the lessons I learned in the workplace:
My first real job was a golf cart attendant in Coldwater, MI. I was responsible for getting golf carts for golfers and keeping the area clean and in good standing. I learned the best way to make an impact is through proactive service.
Tips significantly increased when I realized that I needed to have a wet towel ready at all times. Anytime a group finished their round, I would meet them at their car(s) to get the carts but I always washed their clubs for them, too – I didn’t ask them if they wanted it, I just did it. I loved this job because there was always something to do and I enjoyed the relationships I built with regular playing members of the course.
My first job was at a small, privately owned café and coffee shop in Stone Ridge, VA. As a sophomore in high school, I learned a lot of skills such as time management, leadership, organization, and financial acumen that have carried over into my professional career. I loved it so much that I stayed with them for more than 4 years, even into college, until the owner sold the business. As much as I love what I do now, that job will always have a special place in my heart.
My first job was as a bus person at a restaurant overlooking Hamilton Lake in Indiana. I worked springs and summers for a few years at the ages of 14 and 15 with my mom and grandmother when they were waitstaff. I have fond memories for that reason especially, but also the fun we had working with an old dumbwaiter/elevator. Completed orders from the kitchen were brought to us up the elevator and we sent dirty dishes down to them as well. We loaded and unloaded the salad bar with this elevator, too.
A classmate, Toby, worked in the kitchen with his mom. I remember him yelling jokes up the dumbwaiter throughout the day. My first job brings fond memories because both of our moms are no longer with us, and we were blessed to be able to spend time with them while working. I also learned patience, empathy, and respect for team members and customers – skills that still help me to this day in my current role.
My first job was detasseling corn for Pioneer Seed. I was 13 years old and waking up at 5:30 am to get on a bus in the middle of our small town. They would pack a bus full of ambitious youngsters and take them out to the middle of cornfields to jump on a tractor and detassel corn. I loved the paychecks I was getting that summer, but I hated getting soaked by the morning dew on the corn. I learned that hard work pays off and money is a great motivator.
My first job as a teenager was a cashier at a Travel Plaza off the Indiana Toll Road. I enjoyed working with others my age and interacting with people from all over the country. I learned that customers appreciate it when you listen to what they need and you’re prepared for what they need – even if that’s directions to the nearest restroom after a long drive.
My first job was at a pizza and sub chain. I worked the cash register, made food, and cleaned the restaurant and kitchen. I didn’t mind the job, but my boss was a jerk. I learned a few things during my time there:
My first job was throwing and stacking hay, straw, and alfalfa for a local farmer. We rotated through three roles on the job: unloading the trailer onto the conveyor belt, throwing the bales, and stacking the bales. The farmer would pick us up every morning at 9 am sharp for four consecutive summers. We ate a simple sandwich and chips every day at his house. I learned to be on time, work hard, and not stop working until the farmer calls it quits. I always enjoyed riding to the next barn on the tailgate with my legs hanging off.
My first job was when I was 14 at a little burger and milkshake restaurant in Fremont, IN as a waitress. My favorite thing about working there was that every Friday night they did this thing called “Dancing in the Street,” and they would close off an entire street and play music for everyone to come and dance. This is where I blossomed, really learned how to interact with customers, and discovered my love for wanting to help others and brighten their day!
My first job was waitressing at a restaurant on Crooked Lake in Indiana. I learned that a smile can go a long way. I also learned to stay on my toes, how to multitask, and that you cannot make every customer happy. I enjoyed this job not only because I got complimentary meals after shifts, but also because of the people I met along the way. I developed relationships with regulars and the staff.
My first job was at a little restaurant in my hometown. I was 15 and as soon as I was old enough for a work permit, my dad marched me in there and volunteered me for a job. I ended up working there for the rest of high school as a “drink girl.” Apparently teenagers weren’t trusted to take food orders, just drinks. Let’s just say I poured a lot of iced tea between the ages of 15 and 17!
I loved my first job and have many fond memories. Working there taught me to be accountable and responsible, and honed my natural tendency to work hard. I also learned that sometimes work involves tasks you may not love to do but still need to be done. (I’m specifically remembering cleaning old cottage cheese out of the salad bar every night…)
Cottage cheese aside, my first job also showed me that work can be fun and can lead to awesome relationships with coworkers – I’m still friends with two fellow “drink girls” to this day. It also taught me the value of caring about other people. Even something simple like remembering how someone took their tea or coffee, or asking how their day was going, made a big difference. It made me understand, earlier than perhaps I would have otherwise, that I could make a difference in people’s lives with a little bit of kindness and compassion (and a lot of sweet tea).
My first job was when I was 14 at Mancino’s Pizza and Grinders. I washed dishes, worked on the food line, fulfilled orders, served customers, and even cleaned public restrooms. I learned how to sweep and mop a floor in the most efficient way possible, as well as make sure the money was “bank face” and in order from the smallest bill to the largest. I loved taking care of our customers and making good tips, but I hated cleaning toilets. Still do today!
My first job was working at Burdette Brothers Pontiac as an automotive detailer and service technician. I started the week I turned 14 and continued in various roles until I graduated from college. It was a dream job for me for two reasons:
Through this job, I witnessed hard work and dedication to his craft on a daily basis. These impressions stick with me today and have helped shape my professional career.
My first job was at a local pharmacy in Angola, IN at 15 years old. My official title was cashier, but it was really a lot more than that! The pharmacy had a hangout spot in the back for all of the locals called “The Round Table.” One part of my job was making sure that there was always a fresh pot of coffee and that the snack area was stocked. I got a real lesson on small town politics from the interactions there.
This job taught me to multitask, the importance of math skills, and how to deal with tension in a work environment because the store had two owners who, after years of working together, did not get along well.
My first job was a line/prep cook at a fine-dining restaurant. Besides learning how to decorate desserts and make croutons, whipped cream, and fancy salads, I learned to develop professional relationships with people much older than I was (14 at the time). It was odd initially to converse and collaborate with other paid employees in their 40s and 50s, but I earned their respect by listening well, being reliable, and helping out however I could (including washing dishes, floors, etc.).
My first job was as a spotlight operator for the local cabaret theatre in downtown Sarasota, FL. I was 16 when I worked on my first show, “Harry Who?”. It was such a fun experience, and I made friends that have lasted 20 years. I met so many interesting people through the theatre and developed skills that would promote communication and leadership. It was truly a period of my life that I will always cherish. I even had an actress write a song about me!
I now have two bachelor’s degrees (one in theatre and one in accounting), which goes to show that we are all multifaceted and can achieve great things, wherever we decide to shine our spotlight.
My first job was at a coffee/sandwich shop. I made customer orders and worked the cash register mostly, though also helped clean, stock, and cover other duties. I gained customer service skills and learned how to work as a team member and properly prioritize tasks, which was especially important during busy breakfast and lunch hours. I think this job was a great introduction to the working world – including the harsh reality that sometimes you have to get up VERY early for your shift (quite a lesson for a young teenager).
My first job was working as a car hop at an A&W Root Beer stand in Auburn, IN. I made $1.00 an hour and absolutely loved it! I think this is where I learned communication skills and how giving great customer service will produce great results.
My first job was at a bait shop pumping gas and digging worms. I loved the atmosphere and was able to meet a lot of different people who were excited to be in the area because they were coming to the lakes for a vacation. The shop was quite eclectic as it sold fishing and hunting equipment as well as gas – plus, it had a pool table and little snack bar for the customers. I learned how to play pool that summer and that night crawlers are easy to pull from the ground after it rains!