10 Things I've Learned From My First Job
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10 Things I've Learned From My First Job

When I walked into my first job, I had no clue what I was getting myself into. Now that I've been working for over a year, here is some of the knowledge that I've gained.

10 Things I've Learned From My First Job

I started my first job in April of 2016 when I was 16 years old, and I really had no idea what I was getting myself into. I can confidently say that I was clueless. Now, I have worked for over a year and feel like a totally different person than when I started.

1. The Drama Doesn’t Stop At High School.

For some reason I was under the impression that immaturity and drama stopped at high school… I don’t know how I came up with this, but I was very wrong! Adults are not immune to drama. It’s become clear to me that the same advice always applies: it’s in your best interest to stay out of it. Word spreads so fast. Before you know it the words twist, rumors are spreading, and a coworker is mad at you. And it’s the same coworker you’ll probably have to work with again before the week ends.

2. Advocating For Yourself Is Key

If you want something, you have to go after it. That’s the only way you’ll be successful. The best example I have for this is about hours. I remember a few months ago I didn’t get many hours one week, so I let the schedule maker know that money was tight and I needed more hours if they could give them. Luckily I’m also in good standing, and now I almost always get called first when a cashier calls out. It happens often, so it’s made a huge difference. I probably average at least 5 extra hours each week just because I made it a point to make my concerns known.

3. Don’t Be Afraid To Ask Questions

I can guarantee you will not get enough training to prepare you for all the situations you will face at your job no matter where you are working. I went to “training” but once I actually showed up and clocked in for the first time I noticed immediately that I didn’t know what the heck I was doing. I learned by imitating what was already going on and then trial and error. When there was something I knew I couldn’t just pick up on my own, I made sure to ask questions about it. In hindsight I wish I would’ve asked more questions and not been so anxious. As someone that’s been working at the store for over a year now I like it when new coworkers ask me how to do things. To sum this up, don’t let social anxiety get in the way of doing your job effectively.

4. Always Be Aware of Your Next Opportunity

Doors are constantly opening. Knowing how to recognize an opening when you see one and then having the guts to go after it is a one-two punch that will get you far in life. Once I felt confident in my ability to perform in my first position, I immediately thought of what was next. As a bagger, the next level for me to aspire to was being a cashier. So the first thing I did was perform the best I could at what I was already doing. That put me in good standing with management, and then when I got a free second to speak with one of my managers I asked when I could move positions. The answer to that was when I turned 17. I powered through months of pushing carts and plunging toilets until December came. Once my birthday was on its way I reminded my supervisor that I wanted to be a cashier and I would be 17 in no time. After perseverance and some dedicated self-advocating, I became a cashier in January 2017!

5. The Art of the Angry Smile

I’m pretty relaxed but tend to have quite the fiery temper when I’m provoked. So how do I survive working with rude, know-it-all customers? Whenever I’m angry I make sure to smile even harder. Believe it or not it helps. It’s more of a cringe that I can’t get in trouble for. I just put that jolt of energy into aggressively smiling and then I usually calm down!

6. You Can’t Blindly Trust Customers

I work retail and it’s just the sad truth when I say that customers will definitely try and pull one over on you. I used to be more trusting than I am now, but after working my first job and seeing people steal/attempt to steal/cheat the system I pay attention to everything. Follow whatever your company’s rules are (especially when it comes to cashiering) because when you don’t is when you’ll usually be scammed. Also make sure you aren’t distracted during a transaction by compliments or how trustworthy the customers seems to be.

7. Check It Twice

Checking everything twice is definitely worth it especially when you are handling money. Count it out, double check the amount the register says to hand back, and then count it out again once you’ve closed the drawer. Checking twice was also important for safety measures like turning pipes on and off. It never hurts to make sure. There have been times when bills stuck together and I almost gave out an extra five dollars or more but the second count caught the mistake. You can’t rely on people to hand it back if you slip up.

8. The Graceful Exit

This is a lesson I learned by observation and not by experience! If you’re going to quit your job, don’t make it your mission to “stick it to the man” on the way out. I’ve known someone that started a nasty rumor literally on their way out after a quit, just to get back at someone. I also have had countless coworkers quit and not give any notice whatsoever. They just stopped showing up. It’s immature, and turns a peaceful parting into a mess that those you leave behind will have to clean up. Leave on good terms and with notice, and you’ll have a job that you may be able to return to in a time of need.

9. Beginnings are Scary

Showing up for my interview and then my first day was absolutely nerve racking! I made a big deal out of nothing, but I’ve noticed now that almost every person starting in a new environment is scared. What I’ve learned is that beginnings are scary, but worth it. At first it feels like you’ll be anxious forever but in time working just becomes like second nature.

10. Give it Time

I know that about two months in I hit a wall at my first job. The nerves had worn off and I knew what I was doing (for the most part). I was bored and didn’t want to work anymore. I felt like I was underpaid and overworked, but I gave it time and I’m glad I stayed. I’m still with the same company but have been promoted to a different position, and it’s been so worth it.

I’m happy with my working experience and am so glad that I have had the opportunity to learn valuable skills, make great friends, and earn money. It has taught me again and again about the importance of peacemaking, all the while speaking up for and advocating for myself. In no way do I regret starting to work at 16, and I actually wish I had started a year earlier. I hope that even if you are working a minimum wage job, you know that you are learning valuable lessons that can give you a leg up in your future endeavors. It can’t be a meaningless job if it helps you get to the next level!

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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