First Jobs and Life Lessons (Pt. 2)
Part one of this article looked at the first four lessons from the Forbes article, “8 Lessons We Learned From Our First Jobs.” The story shared many lessons from Next Avenue readers, a PBS website catering to America’s 50+ population.
The first four lessons included:
1. A bad first job can focus your career goals.
2. Start working early.
3. Low pay is better than no pay.
4. No job is too menial.
As I read the Forbes article, I realized that I also learned similar lessons to those of older generations. Yet, some of my views differed, which led me to wander if this is because I am from the millennial generation (and we have different ways of thinking) or because our workforce has evolved so much that some of these first-job lessons simply don’t apply today.
Below are the final four lessons and my take on their relevancy to today’s workforce:
5. Dress appropriately.
While the article stressed that several Next Avenue readers said it was important to follow the dress code at work, I believe this lesson has changed with the times. Nowadays, workplaces don’t have a strict dress code. I’ve met many people who still go into an office and their work attire is jeans and a t-shirt. Appropriate dress in today’s working environment depends on the culture of that organization.
6. Work is what you make of it.
The article says that first jobs are often the ones no one else wants. In my case of pushing carts in extreme heat and cold, this was true. And I think this lesson not only applies to first jobs, but to every position you have. It’s like the saying, when life gives you lemons, make lemonade. You can choose to make the most out of your job and have a positive attitude while working. You can also find ways to make it enjoyable (or not). A lot of it is up to you.
7. Don’t date the boss (or if you do, find another job).
The article explains how one woman, who was a typist in an ad agency, began dating the agency’s president. And she believes people won’t take you seriously if you’re dating the boss.
This lesson is timeless and applies to every generation. Work relationships can already be tricky, but once you add romance into the mix, 9 times out of 10 you’re bound for disaster. Although I don’t know anyone who had to learn this at their first job, the lesson is relevant in any job situation. Just don’t do it.
8. Do what you love.
For this last lesson, the article references a man named Harold Sharlin, 89, of Washington, D.C., who it says “has worked longer than most. He shows us that you have time to get it right, and if you don’t like what you are doing at first, try something else.”
While I believe this is a good work lesson in general, like point number one, I don’t think it necessarily has to come from a first job. Again, most people don’t go into their first job (which is normally in their teenage years) thinking that this is what they love and will be doing the rest of their lives. People normally have the perspective that their first job is a temporary way to make money.
Yet, as you continue to work and gain experience (especially after college) I believe then we grasp the concept that one should do what he or she loves because our experiences reinforce this notion.
Not everyone learns the same things from their first jobs; some people have similar takeaways while others’ are unique to their roles. Do you remember your first job? What were some of the biggest lessons it taught you?