If you’re like most high school students who have landed a job, you’re probably working at an establishment like a fast food restaurant, discount clothing store, or grocery store. Though these jobs might not be your final career destination, you should conduct yourself as if they are. These jobs are important to your development as a citizen and future worker. Don’t take them lightly.
How you perform in your first jobs matter because:
- They provide you money to put away for college, trade school, and other post-high-school expenses.
- They allow you to meet people who may one day provide you references, refer you to other, better employment, or could become coworkers or even business partners.
- They teach you a bit about how the real world works and, hopefully, will inspire you to keep up the good work in school or turn around your grades if they need improvement.
- They are a perfect training ground for future jobs.
One and two are self-explanatory, so we’ll focus on three and four.
We’ve all heard the expression, “Life is hard.” But you may not know just how hard adult life can be until you see it up close in the struggles, hopes, and dreams of your coworkers at some of your first jobs. Witnessing their travails with your own eyes can make you compassionate about the challenges others face and inspire you to plan accordingly so that you don’t find yourself in a place similar to theirs later in life.
I know a student who landed a job at a fast food restaurant and was stunned to work alongside others in their late 20s or older who had made this their career. These adults had not earned college degrees and in some cases, had even dropped out of high school. Because they had dropped out, they didn’t have an opportunity to move up within the organization. The student also learned that her coworkers were making only a little more money than she was making. Additionally, she found out that at least one of her colleagues was living in the rundown mobile home park community behind the restaurant. This woman had worked for the restaurant for ten years, yet she couldn’t afford a car and struggled to buy groceries. She was nearly 30 years old.
This inspired the student to start planning for her career after high school. She learned compassion and her desire to succeed in her dream career intensified.
First jobs are also a good place to learn how to be a good worker. Believe it or not, whether you’re working at a mom-and-pop eatery or a law firm, many of the attributes that would make you an asset at the restaurant are the same that would make you valuable to the firm. Take advantage of your time in your first job learning and embodying the basic attributes that will make you a work star.
To do well at the mom-and-pop joint or the high-in-the-sky firm, you must:
*Show up to work on time.
*Be attired according to dress code.
*Be a team player.
*Do your job well.
*Follow workplace rules.
*Be respectful of your boss, coworkers, and customers.
*Refuse to gossip with your coworkers.
*Give two weeks’ notice if you plan to leave your employment. This shows your boss that you respect your workplace and allows you to leave him or her with a positive impression of you.
That’s just a partial list of actions you should take to do well in any workplace. So you see, a first job can help you learn how to model behavior that can set you up for success in any career you later choose.
Remember, to proceed down the right path in your careering journey, keep up your grades, do your job well, treat others with respect, and keep your head held high. Stay confident and know in your heart that no matter where you are working now, you will succeed.