Have you been seeing the “first seven jobs” meme on facebook and elsewhere? Perhaps not surprisingly, many very famous and celebrated people started their careers in similar humble settings – as clerks, dishwashers, babysitters, lifeguards, etc. These are entry level jobs that don’t require advanced education. Those first jobs, though, are critical to developing the skills needed in any workplace. You need to show up on time. You need to pay attention to the manager and deliver results – whether you feel like it or not on any given day. And you learn that even the most humbling tasks can bring their own rewards when you do them well.
You also learn what you can and can’t tolerate at work. You may learn that the thing you thought you’d love isn’t your thing after all. Look at this list:
- Gift store clerk
- Payroll clerk at a fish plant
- Phlebotomist and lab tech in pathology lab
- Human genetics research assistant
- Research assistant at life sciences consulting firm
- High school science teacher
- Market researcher for chemical conglomerate
These are my first seven jobs. Some I held for more than one year. Numbers 3-7 represent what I thought I wanted to do with my life – which was to be a scientist. In the end, I loved (still love) science, but found lab work too isolating to justify the time and expense of pursuing a PhD. I went to business school instead and with job 7, began the 36 year run I’ve had in corporate environments.
What were your first 7 jobs – and what did they teach you?