This week marks my seventh anniversary at work. It’s quite a milestone for me. Seven years is longer than I’ve done anything in my life… longer than any relationship I’ve ever had, longer than I attended college, longer than I’ve lived in my house.
I’ve learned a lot in these seven years—I’ve learned how to get up (almost) every morning and get to work on time. I’ve learned a lot about marketing in a non-profit, association environment and how to navigate office politics. I’ve worked with a lot of smart people and have come to appreciate and respect the increasingly difficult environment in which teachers teach and students learn.
Thinking back on what I’ve learned in my current job made me realize I’ve learned something from every job I’ve had including:
Field worker— Hands down the best job I ever had. I got a tan, hung out with my friends, and thought $400 was a TON of money. I learned important lessons about hard work and being dependable as well as all the words to Sir Mix-a-Lot’s “Baby Got Back.”
Waitress— I worked as a waitress at a buffet restaurant, so it was easy in some respects (not a lot of orders to remember) and hard in others (why should we tip you?) I learned the importance of staying calm under pressure, smiling for tips and how to re-stock a salad bar. I also learned the tale-tell signs of bulimia, but that’s another story.
Temp office worker—Probably the best training for the “real world” I could’ve asked for. On summer and winter breaks in college, I worked as a temporary office worker, doing mostly clerical jobs. I had a couple of long-term assignments; one at a medical review organization and one in a law firm. Sure, I did my share of typing and filing and miscellaneous “grunt” work, but I learned a LOT of valuable lessons about office culture and politics as an “outsider” looking in.
Grocery store cashier—In addition to a fail-proof method for selling beer to my under aged friends, I learned to guess what people were making for dinner by the ingredients they bought. I also learned those little numbers on produce. I still know that 4017 is Granny Smith apples and bananas are 4011.
Telemarketer—I worked as a telemarketer in college, soliciting university alumni for donations. Since I wasn’t making collection calls or selling people stuff they didn’t want, it wasn’t as bad as I imagine some telemarketing jobs might be. The #1 thing I learned was how to build rapport. The more I could chit-chat with the alumni, the more likely they were to pledge to the University. To this day, I draw upon some of those skills when necessary. I’ve yet to receive one of these calls, however, even though I *guarantee* I would give.
Office cleaner— This definitely ranks as the least “glamorous” job I’ve ever had, but it wasn’t as bad as it seemed. As long as I had the job finished by a certain time, I could come and go as I pleased. It made me realize, however, how trusting companies can be. Here I was, a 22-year-old college kid and I had the keys to EVERYTHING… Luckily, I’m a trustworthy type, and I’m sure the company was bonded, but STILL.
Real estate assistant—I think this may have started as part of a temp agency job, but it grew into one of the best jobs I’ve ever had… and one of my biggest professional regrets. I was the right-hand man (er..woman) to a really successful real-estate agent in the Bloomington-Normal area. I did all of the marketing for her and learned how to cultivate clients. I also royally screwed her over when I left… and learned a valuable lesson about not burning bridges.
I’ve had other odd jobs here and there, but what stands out the most at ALL the places I’ve worked are the people I’ve worked with. I’ve made and maintained friendships with LOTS of people I’ve worked with over the years… after all, if we’re going to spend a third of our lives at work, we might as well at least like the people we’re spending it with, right?