Ok, I’m a bit late to the party with this post, as this tag has been going on for a few weeks and is wellllllll past it’s prime. Oh well, I guess I’m crap at interneting, and not as reactive as I should be.
But if you want to hear about my ‘career’ up till now, stay with me.
I have to admit, I only got my first job when I was 20 and on a gap year. Yes, I am one of those privileged kids who always got enough pocket money to buy whatever their heart desired, and their only responsibility was to study hard and get good grades. I am definitely grateful to my parents for providing me with such a cushioned start in life, but, surprisingly enough, it didn’t make me afraid of hard work later on in life. I was actually surprised myself. And once I started working, I haven’t stopped.
I have since worked in quite a few places (given it’s only been 2 years) and have done different jobs. When I spotted this hashtag on twitter, I thought it was quite interesting, but didn’t pursue it any further. Only when a few of my favourite bloggers wrote their own posts about their #First7Jobs, was I inspired to delve into my past, and share it with you.
I am a firm believer in learning from every experience, so every single one of those jobs gave me some new skills, and taught me something about myself and people in general. Even when I didn’t really enjoy them (and I haven’t enjoyed most of them, to be honest, not the type of person to enjoy physical work), or they haven’t advanced my career in any way, I still believe I haven’t wasted any time. And I definitely encourage you to look at your life experiences in such a way. Because everything we do, everything we experience, can be valuable, which I will try to show you through this post.
Ok, enough of cliches, let’s get to my CV dissection.
Shop assistant in grocery store
The summer was about to start, and my aunt told my mom that they didn’t have enough employees in the store. My mom suggested they hire me and I was behind the till literally two days later. Although it wasn’t the most glamorous of jobs (I had to wear a really unbecoming apron that covered my dashing figure), the atmosphere was fantastic, and I could always ask for help if I needed it. Most of the people I worked with have known me since I was a little kid, so it was a pretty nice experience overall. I have learnt a lot about positioning of products on shelves, being nice to people who are treating you badly just because you’re a shop assistant, and they think you’re uneducated and worse than them (I was actually still enrolled at Oxford when I worked there, how about that for uneducated?), keeping the shelves stocked and a general running of a small business.
Healthy fast food employee
I got a job at a UK chain of healthy ‘fast food’ stores (from which I resigned after like 4 or so days to take up my next job). I worked front of house, but spent a day in the kitchen, for which I am grateful. Not because I want to work in the kitchen (god forbid!), but because I realised how strict chains are with protocols on cleanliness and best before dates. I now eat there stress-free. The place was also big on having a good atmosphere, so everyone was super positive and everyone was jumping at every opportunity to teach me something. And on top of that, there was free food and paid lunch breaks. Looking back, I really regret leaving this job, especially as I was about to do a barista training, but you can’t go back in time, can you?
Probably the weirdest job title I will ever have. I spent almost 5 months in this job before I got promoted. Although the name might suggest so, I was not developing new shampoo formulations. On the contrary – I was using ones that have already been developed by people far better at chemistry than me. In short – I washed people’s hair in a hair salon. On top of that, I cleaned, swept the floors, washed towels, assisted stylists and whatever else was required of me. It was an unbearable unstimulating and boring job, while at the same time being fast paced and extremely tiring. So probably the worst combination ever. My working days started at 8.15am (although I was paid from 8.30) and finished at 6pm, with 3 breaks amounting to an (unpaid) hour. By the end of the week I’d fall asleep on Mr Arguably Honest’s lap around 9pm, and have hands so cracked that putting them under water brought tears to my eyes. Definitely one of the hardest, worst paid and least pleasant jobs I’ve done in my life, and I doubt I’ll ever experience something like that again (or hope so, at least). However, I learnt how to wash hair really well and no salon owner will ever fool me – I really know if the salon has been cleaned thoroughly or just on the surface.
Front of House (Receptionist)
After 5 months of hair washing, I got up and convinced the owner to promote me to reception. Turned out it was an ever harder job, with longer hours and more pressure. I was booking appointments over the phone and email (which definitely isn’t the best job for someone who hates talking on the phone), keeping the juniors busy, greeting clients, calling them if something wasn’t going according to plan. To put it simply, though – if you’re a receptionist, everything is your fault. Stylist is ill? Let’s shoot the messenger. Someone running late? Surely you booked it wrong. A delivery not unpacked when you’re so busy you don’t have time to scratch your bum? Your fault. This definitely left in me a massive respect for any receptionist – even when I’m in a hurry, I always try to be as nice to them as possible – because I know whatever is going wrong, might not be their fault. However, it also made me expect more, because I know how to do this job well. This job also increased my dislike for people who think they’re better than me because they can afford a £200 haircut. I left this job before I started university.
When I started university last year, I needed a job. This one was the first one that came my way – its biggest advantage was massive amount of flexibility. Basically, I’d let the agency know which days I could work in the following week, then they would offer me shifts. I worked in a members-only club in Mayfair. It wasn’t the type of waitressing where you take orders – I only worked at events, so you’d just serve everyone the same thing (unless someone was vegetarian/coeliac/lactose-intolerant/pescetarian/there were 4 different dinner options). The biggest disadvantage was that the work was in the evening, and I’d come back home after midnight, incredibly tired. I didn’t exactly enjoy it, because it was very mundane, but I had some of the best managers in my career so far. Lovely, caring gentlemen, who really knew how to do their job. The people I worked with were also really nice and hardworking, and we learnt to work as a team, so that the service would generally go smoothly. Most of the guests were also really nice and I didn’t really experience the ‘I’m better than you cause I’m rich’ attitude. Thanks to it I know how to open champagne without the cork flying around, carry 3 plates at once or hold a tray full of champagne glasses without dropping them on the floor. All very useful if you’re having a dinner party. When I came back to London after Christmas, though, the agency didn’t have any shifts for me, and I was once again without a job.
A job I was excited to apply for even before I started university (as it was something Mr Arguably Honest did at his university). It’s not a regular job, unfortunately, but I enjoy it a lot. As a student ambassador you can give campus tours, and work on career fairs and open days. I really enjoy working on open days, when I can show prospective students around and tell them more about university and my degree. The fact that I really like my degree definitely helps in talking about it enthusiastically, I also got to meet a lot of lovely students of other subjects while working. It made me really good at navigating the university and can always give my friends a hand when they’re looking for some place on campus. It’s a job I really enjoy, but it’s casual enough to keep it while I do other things. I’m already looking forward to working on an open day in a few days. If you’re a student or about to become one, I definitely recommend looking into the opportunities to become a student ambassador.
Marketing assistant at people.io
My current (and favourite so far) job. I got it in a completely random way – I came in as a product tester, to give my views on the company’s product (application). The person doing the test liked me a lot, and when I mentioned that I was looking for a job, promised she will let me know if any of the companies in the building was looking for someone part-time. I thought nothing would come of it, but by the time I got home there was an email in my inbox saying the CEO of the company wants to talk to me. I had a job a week later. I was initially writing for the company blog, which I really enjoyed because, well, I love writing. Later on, I started doing research on various topics and other jobs like that. Working at a small company is a really fantastic opportunity, especially if you’re studying business. Every time I walk into the office, I learn something new – be it about thing the company does or running a business in general. It’s challenging and exciting, and the team is really passionate. It’s a job I really like doing, and I will forever be grateful for this opportunity. Although it does get a bit challenging at times to handle both work and studies, I know I’m learning every time I enter the office. And that’s worth it to me.
So here it is – the first 7 jobs in my life. Every one taught me something, no matter how unlikely that seems. I’m excited for what’s to come – I’m sure there will be many more jobs to come, after all, an average millennial changes their job every few years ;).
Cover photo by Olu Eletu.