Let me take you back to my very first real world job ever. Catch me in my white polo (buttoned up all the way) under a bright green apron with salsa spots behind the register at a taco chain restaurant in California. I spent my nights after school closing by pouring vats of salsa back into storage in the back freezer, often spilling mostly spicy and hardly any mild all over myself. Yum.
Not gonna lie, working in the food industry was one of the hardest and most rewarding experiences I ever had. I never really want to go back to a salsa-in-my-shoes type of career, but I feel like it’s important to recognize the valuable things a person gets from working a summer job.
This past summer, I swapped out my white polo for a blue one in a completely different industry. I worked at an aquatic facility as an office admin, despite the fact that I’m a theatre major. Let’s be real, I’m a poor college student and I needed to make money to #followmydreams.
While this job wasn’t exactly a straight shot towards Broadway, I still managed to learn a lot about myself. Too many people my age are concerned with resume builders and less about what makes them up as a person.
Here are five things I learned working this summer:
1. You can’t please everyone.
For some ungodly reason, there is always an incredibly difficult customer that thinks you are single handily responsible for her unhappiness. She is having a terrible day and you get to be the lucky employee she’ll take it out on. People have bad days, but remember, just because it’s a bad day doesn’t mean you have a bad life.
Putting yourself in other people’s shoes is vital to any job that deals with customer service. I can not tell you enough about how cautious I was of customer’s feelings towards different policies or changes made.
3. Go with the flow.
Change is difficult. Especially when you’re the one enforcing new rules and policies. Sometimes you just have to take a deep breath, say okay, and go with it. It’s all you can do sometimes.
4. Be kind.
I can write at least six different articles on this. Being kind is something the world is seriously lacking, but I can tell you for sure that the people I worked with this summer showed kindness the best way possible. Just be kind.
5. Be open to new opportunities.
I think a lot of people shut themselves off because things may seem impossible or just so unlikely that they decide the answer is always “no” before they’ve even asked. Debate with your boss about feminism and the idea of marriage. Have Pokemon Go Tuesday night dinners with your coworkers. Just go for it.
Maybe I didn’t do something that I’m necessarily striving towards, but I don’t think I cheated myself of anything. I gained experience and empathy and kindness— isn’t that what adulthood is about?