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Author Topic: Your First Non-Academic Job  (Read 13356 times)
janewales
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« Reply #15 on: April 24, 2012, 4:23:51 PM »

My first non-casual job was when I spent the first two summers of my university years selling entry tickets to a local tourist attraction. We didn't have cash registers, presumably because we were selling only a limited number of things (adult, youth, child, senior citizen, and family tickets), and we were a cash-only operation, so we had to do all the necessary calculations for prices and change in our heads. It was a high-volume site, so we took in thousands of dollars a day. I don't remember anyone worrying about the fact that the balancing of the books rested on our ability to do arithmetic on the fly; it's hard to imagine such a situation today.

Life skills acquired: I can still do lots of calculations in my head; I can count money very quickly; and I know how to snap a new bill to make sure it isn't actually two bills stuck together.
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daniel_von_flanagan
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« Reply #16 on: April 24, 2012, 4:43:30 PM »

The first hourly job was at a lumber yard, Hines lumber.  It was once big in Chicagoland but is now defunct.
They still exist, though on a smaller scale.  For example, they no longer own Hines, Oregon.

The first job I can remember (other than working in my father's shop)  was selling ad time for a white supremacist radio station over the phone to small business owners in Gary, Indiana.  Do I win the "icky" prize? - DvF
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molli_sols
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« Reply #17 on: April 24, 2012, 4:52:03 PM »

My very first job was teaching swim lessons and lifeguarding at the local Y.  It was pretty much glorified baby sitting.  But I loved the job because my parents dropped me off at my grandparents in the morning and I got to read my grandmother's trashy novels until it was time to bike to the pool.  I was 14 and those books were strictly forbidden at home.  

The next summer I graduated to life guarding and teaching lessons at the local private college.  The timing was good because I had exhausted my grandmother's library.  On my breaks I would walk up the hill to the public library and take out books on my secret library card and then I would lounge and read on my beach towel by the waterfall.  In later years I graduated to gym and tennis court monitor which allowed to read while working at the same time which is still a pretty accurate description of my dream job.

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walker_percy
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« Reply #18 on: April 24, 2012, 4:56:43 PM »

I worked for my dad in his clothing store. But I don't count that, because I could skip out when the spirit moved me. The first real job was landscaping in Panama City Beach, Florida, a summer job for Gulf Coast Landscaping or something like that. Planted f***ing palm trees for 9 hours a day in PC from June through early August. It was ass-raping hell, truly.  
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melba_frilkins
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« Reply #19 on: April 24, 2012, 5:08:14 PM »

Like the OP my first job was at McDonald's at age 16. However, I started out toasting buns, not at the register. You had to work your way up to the registers.

My proudest moment was the summer I single-handedly ran the entire kitchen for breakfast every morning. Breakfasts were fairly slow there so they only needed one person. It was fun being responsible for everything in the kitchen, the entire menu, not just one repetitive task. I cracked so many eggs (yes, real eggs in the shell) that I took the opportunity to teach myself how to crack an egg one-handed. I can still do that today.

That was the summer they debuted breakfast burritos and McRibs. A sample of those was one of the last things I ate before becoming vegetarian for thirteen years.
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southerntransplant
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« Reply #20 on: April 24, 2012, 5:25:10 PM »

When I was 16 I started working at a donut shop. We were located near the national headquarters, and so we were the experimental shop that the bigwigs would try their big ideas on ("What would happen if we used grape jelly instead of strawberry? A lighter shade of glaze? Jack up prices by 50%?"). We also were the training site for new donut shop managers, including those from the new stores in Japan.

I started as a cashier, working my way up to baker. If you were a donut baker you were a rock star in those days. They told me I had a future - I was strapped to a rocket pointed straight at assistant manager, they said - but what finally did me in was watching someone order two dozen jelly donuts, sit down in the seating area and eat them all.

Two dozen jelly donuts in less than 30 minutes.

Later I was told that the guy had done that before - many times before. I figured that I didn't want to be part of any product that would compel someone to do that.
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frogfactory
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« Reply #21 on: April 24, 2012, 5:54:45 PM »

Like Molli, mine was lifeguarding.  I'd been really into lifesaving/rescue since I was much younger, and got all the qualifications.  The RLSS qualification is meant to be taken after the age of 16 - I was snuck in a couple of months early.  Then I was offered a training position on the Inshore Rescue Team, which I would have been really excited about, except my family was just about to move far away from the sea to another country.  I had to turn it down and got a job as a pool lifeguard at the local swimming pool.  It was, well, dull but easy and seemed a bit of a shame after all that training. 

My only actual 'rescue' - that is, the only time I actually had to get in the pool - was during the weekly Rocket Club for disabled adults, when a lady with known severe epilepsy I was keeping a special eye on started fitting in the pool.  I held her head out of the water until the fit stopped, then my larger male colleagues had to help out by getting her to the poolside (she was significantly larger than I could have managed).

Apart from that, it was a lot of patrolling the poolside with a stick, mopping the changing rooms, and occasionally helping to make sandwiches for kids' parties in the rec room.

After about a year and a half of doing that a few times a week in High School, I decided I wanted a cooler job, so I went and asked around the local pubs and got my first bartending gig in a small rural local.  I was a couple of weeks shy of my 18th birthday, and was asked to keep my mouth shut about that.  I'm still fond of that pub, and visit it whenever I'm in my dad's town.  Bartending, though, while it might look 'cooler' than lifeguarding to the average 17 year old, is not, in practice a very glamourous job.  Not that I haven't done it again plenty of times since.
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evolution
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« Reply #22 on: April 24, 2012, 6:04:21 PM »

I worked at an ice cream store during summers in high school - which is fun, because people are mostly in a good mood when they're about to get ice cream. I still remember that sticky-sweet smell though, all over your clothes and arms, after reaching into those five-gallon buckets hour after hour. I don't think I ate ice cream for a couple years. I can still serve up a bad-a$$ soft-serve cone, though!
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chaosbydesign
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« Reply #23 on: April 24, 2012, 6:37:17 PM »

My first job while I was in college was at a sports bar. I don't remember how long I worked there now, but I really didn't like it -- far too much interaction with people, and there were ALWAYS really drunk people hanging around at the end of the night who would refuse to leave. They also served food, and their massive vats of coleslaw put me off eating it for years. I actually got fired from that job. I don't usually tell people that. I'm not going to say what I did, but it wasn't because I broke three entire shelves full of glasses in five seconds.
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onthefringe
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« Reply #24 on: April 24, 2012, 6:46:12 PM »

My first paying job (besides babysitting) was teaching dance to 5 and 6 year old kids when I was 14. I still remember the time when one of them saw a picture of me in costume and looked at me with big eyes and said "Wow! You used to be a real dancer!" Nothing like having your dance career washed up at age 14!

The summer before college, I, too, worked at a donut store as a "night finisher" (ie the person who frosts and fills the donuts overnight). I'd also work the breakfast shift sometimes, and occasionally one of the other workers would pull me up to the front to show a customer what someone who was going to college looked like. It was great motivation to do well in school!
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slinger
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« Reply #25 on: April 24, 2012, 6:48:43 PM »

I love this thread. Just for fun, I'll see if I can name more than the first.

Taco Bell (16-17). Minimum wage at the time was $4.75. Started working full time right away, as it was summertime. My first two-week check was like $300. I made it to assistant manager and then was fired after the new assistant manager, who was on her last night of being trained by me, left the bank deposit on the counter before leaving for the evening, after which it was promptly stolen.
Walmart (17-19). Walmart sucks, Ray.
A year of various schticks at pizza places, chain restaurants, and a vet clinic.

Then I discovered that even though I was a college student, I could still work in the sciences. Worked in the chemistry department stockroom, and doing science enrichment/outreach activities on behalf of the University (Like what polly has been talking about lately) both during the year and over the summer.

After BS, a year at the local zoo's summer and overnight camp programs.

Slung ribs and beers to pay my way through grad school, got a MNS in Bio/Ed. Been doing informal ed/higher ed/lab tech/museum work since.

And I agree with the above - any job where you can read while or for work is a major bonus.
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_touchedbyanoodle_
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« Reply #26 on: April 24, 2012, 7:02:21 PM »

My first job was at Burger King when I was 16. I think I made $4.75 an hour and worked my way up to $5.25 over the course of a year, which felt like such a big deal at the time. Ugh. After that, I worked at a toy store in the mall. The toy store was the better gig.

In college, I worked mostly retail, though there was the one summer I worked at the front desk of a low-rate motel, which I thought was such a good job because it paid $6.25. Of course, I found out after I was hired that the last person quit because she was robbed at gun point. I didn't stick around long.
« Last Edit: April 24, 2012, 7:02:51 PM by _touchedbyanoodle_ » Logged

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questor1
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« Reply #27 on: April 24, 2012, 7:04:44 PM »

My first job outside the neighborhood was in retail. I read the ad in the paper, stood in a line that wrapped around the store, got interviewed by a woman in hr (still remember her), and started part-time at minimum wage. First and last time I had to punch a clock.
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oldfullprof
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« Reply #28 on: April 24, 2012, 7:31:37 PM »

Mine was Army chemical operations specialist.  Much time in the Army is spent picking up papers and painting rocks white.  My first duty assignment was actually teaching chemical warfare defense for about a year, but it went downhill after that: most of my subsequent jobs seemed to be light clerking for the most part.  When I got out, my first non-military job was as a purchasing expediter for NYU.  I got this because my last job in the Army was as an acting supply sergeant.
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Taste o' the Sixties
reener06
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« Reply #29 on: April 24, 2012, 7:32:58 PM »

Worked at a pediatrician's office; actually, 4 pediatricians. My mother was the office manager, and all of my sisters had worked there. As others have said, nepotism can be wonderful. I worked every weekend, alternating Saturdays and Sundays, doing check-in of patients, filing, answering phones, and dealing with doctors. I learned to think fast, move fast, juggle lots of things, soothe screaming infants and empathize with exhausted parents--you get a lot of up-all-night parents on the weekend shift. I was supposed to start at 8 and get off at noon, but many days someone came in at five to closing, and I'd be there until 1 or 2. I worked through many low blood sugars (diabetic). Cokes were provided, as I recall, and I learned to drink coffee. I learned a lot about basic pediatric care, and how to deal with irate & tired people. Also, how to read illegible handwriting. I learned I could do a lot of things fast.

I was promoted to a tech position my last summer, and did preliminary physicals on 3, 4 and 5 year olds. By July it was brutal, because all those 5 year olds needed physicals to start kindergarten. One 2-week shift I worked 96 hours, more than anyone in the office, including the docs. I worked through too many low blood sugars. I ended up quitting, but that's a long story. From that experience, I learned that ultimately you probably shouldn't work for your mother. Quitting had very long-term (like years) consequences on our relationship.

I worked as a temp after that, all through college and beginning grad school. That, I always think, is an interesting story I should sell to a magazine. Hmmm...
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