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First Job Memories

July 8th, 2010 at 08:02 am

Do you remember your first job?

I do. I was in high school between my junior and senior years. I was a sampler for Coca-Cola. On Fridays and Saturdays I would give out samples of Coke and coupons for the products. It was a good job – I learned lots about working on that job – dealing with grocery store managers, my boss at Coke, and my dad. You see, my dad had been employed at Coke and he’s the one who suggested I apply for the job. I’m sure it helped that the boss knew him for me to get the job, but it was up to me to keep the job. I had to show up, do the work, turn in a report, and keep everyone satisfied.

I thought it was wonderful – I worked two days a week and could go to school Monday through Thursday. I had learned earlier that school year that our local community college would allow you to take a couple of classes if you applied and got a letter of recommendation from the principal. So, I took two classes and worked two days a week. I made a whopping $4 an hour when minimum wage was just under $3 an hour. They even gave me money for lunch.
I won’t say it wasn’t hard – loading up product, and standing all day and being nice and friendly. But there were harder jobs and I knew I was fortunate. But, it was a job, I was inside, and in some ways, it was fun. It enabled me to save money for expenses and also for college. It wasn’t glamorous or exciting, but it was a stepping stone to future plans.

I did go to college. I worked in college to help pay my expenses. My folks were the working poor. Hard scrabble might be the term for it. Neither of my parents finished high school. My dad left school to work to help provide for his mom, stepdad, and brother. But, my parents were smart. My dad would talk to me about working and he said if an employer ever offers to give you training for anything, take it…you might be able to use it to either help yourself or in another job. My mom talked about how she went to a local business “college” to learn some office stuff to help her work. They kept telling me the more education I can get, the better off I will be.

So, that’s what I did. I took a class on office machines which was basically a class on using different types of adding machines and calculators. I can tell you with the world of technology, being able to use the number pad has helped me a lot. I took two years of typing in high school. This was before computers were around and using a manual typewriter was certainly a workout!

I’ve worked a few different jobs. Some were great and some were, well not so much. No job is perfect. I think we’ve all been there. My first job out of college, I made $1000 more than my dad who had worked at Coke for over 22 years. It wasn’t a fancy job and it wasn’t really for what I went to college. It was a job, I was employed, and I wasn’t a shame to my family.

I was looking at the SA forums and someone had an article from the NY Times where a college graduate turned down an entry level position that started out at $40,000 because he wanted a higher management job. He’s living at home and thinks because he has a college education he should get better than an entry level position. His parents are upset because they think he should view the job as an opportunity. That and the fact his parents are basically his meal ticket. It has been interesting to read what some of the other SA folks are saying. Most think this kid, in the world of so many people not having jobs, is pretty ridiculous. I would have to agree.

So, are you still working at your first job? Was it a job or an opportunity?

7 Responses to “First Job Memories”

  1. monkeymama Says:

    I think your post is very relevant to that article (was thinking about it as I read the beginning of the post). My thought that I hadn't written down was that "finding a job out of college" wasn't quite as critical for my spouse or I because we already had jobs. I actually had 3 different employers (& even more various positions) before graduating college. That doesn't count my real first job, babysitting. Big Grin Obviously I wanted to step up the ladder with my degree, but it's not like I graduated college and suddenly had to find a job. I had one to get me through until the next one.

    They didn't say specifically in the article I don't think, but like many 18, 19, 20-somethings I know, I presumed the kid probably had never had a job before.

  2. monkeymama Says:

    P.S. My first job out of college was "low pay," high stress, and it sucked. But it was a wonderful learning opportunity and a must for my career track. I wouldn't take it back for anything. I learned more my 2 years there than I probably have the 8 years since.

    It was low pay for the field, but triple minimum wage. Why I had to put that in quotes. But I could have taken double the wage for short term gratification.

  3. rob62521 Says:

    I think you are correct, that the kid probably has never had a job before. Won't he be in for a rude awakening when he actually does take a job? So many people think that they have to find a "perfect job" and that everything is going to be wonderful every day.

    You probably learned a lot at that first job...not only the experience, but also something interesting to talk and write about.

  4. North Georgia Gal Says:

    My first job was working for my sister at a Dunkin Donuts. I was young...like 12 or 13. But I learned dedication and reliability. My sister didn't let me slack and often held me to higher standards than the other employees. but since I had been working for so long, I was able to purchase a mustang convertible for my first car!

  5. Ima saver Says:

    My first job was working at a women's clothing store when I was 12 years old. I stayed there about 4 years and I earned $3 a day. At first, I was used to unpack the clothes and hang them on the racks, but after they found out how good I was with money, I became the bookkeeper at the tender age of 12.

  6. -Jerry- Says:

    I worked picking berries on a berry farm every summer as a kid so that I would be able to buy school clothes for the coming year. My parents didn't have a lot of money and there were six kids, so if I didn't earn enough it would lead to wearing the old clothes when school started. I also worked through college and graduate school, and while it was not easy it also taught me a lot. I read that Times article, as well, and I'm not sure how I feel about that young man turning down a job like that one. The American economy isn't getting better anytime soon, and I think that his best insurance, as his grandfather mentioned in the article, is going overseas for his first job!

  7. baselle Says:

    I read that article in the sunday NYT. Ah, paper. There always are a couple of people like that in every generation - the first job has to be perfect somehow and will be what you want to do for the rest of your life for 6 figures. I never understood that. He should have taken it. And I don't make that much more than 40K. You certainly can get started at 40K; 40K is 40,000 more than $0K. And even more so, stepping on that first quickly is important because its a lot easier to find your second job when you are at your first job. I thought it was especially funny about going overseas .... everybody else's economy (except China) is EVEN worse.

    I worked summers at a cannery through college. I got my first job out of college in 1984 (one year off from the depths of that recession) - as a research tech. The cannery was an important job. Taught me that a lot of people work very hard in rotten conditions - its a positive treat to work in an office. Smile

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