Friday, November 13, 2015

What I Learned from My First Jobs

Every year I sit and watch teenage kiddos anxiously apply for their first jobs. Every year I hear them talk of running the rides at Worlds of Fun, serving people at local fast food restaurants, and even working at the local play center. It's so funny to hear them dream of big paychecks and employee discounts, while they really have no idea what they're in for. Recently, I was asked introduced to The Ladders blog project about reflecting on my first job experiences and stories. The wheels got to turning, and I landed on several fun memories of everything from awkward phone calls to changing diapers to trying to balance five tables of hungry diners all at the same time. Each of these jobs taught me something that's stayed with me, so I'm here sharing a few of them (complete with funny photos) today.
Hard at work. And apparently we loved self-timers. (Don't worry, this isn't my nannying photo. See below.)


My first official job was nannying for a family. I was super cool and totally made babysitting business cards, and then was gutsy enough to actually hand them out to several parents of the other kids on my brother's baseball team. One mom took the bait and had me sit for her kiddos. When she got pregnant and had her third shortly after, I was asked to nanny her three month old over the summer. As an 8th grader. The best part was that the mom actually worked from home, so she would come in and out as needed, while I would feed bottles to the baby and watch TV while the little one napped. As time moved on, I watched this sweet little girl and her older siblings summer after summer. We went to my parents' pool, watched movies, and played on the trampoline. Not a bad tax-free gig. It's totally fun and funny to see them now and talk about how I remember when they were all in diapers. also totally makes me feel old.

Things I learned from nannying:

1. Kids are endless balls of energy, they're tiring, and they're so sweet.

2. Patience, patience, patience!!

3. Being responsible for three little lives is terrifying (especially when they aren't your kiddos).

At Graduation with my cousins back in my Nannying Days (they were pre-Facebook!)


After a while, I did get the urge to try something else, a "real" yay-I-get-to-pay-taxes now job. While nannying the summer after I graduated from high school, I randomly landed a job through a mutual friend as a receptionist for the new local Massage Envy. I didn't work outside of the summer time, so it was doable and a good idea for my savings to work both jobs while I could. Massage Envy was an interesting experience. I had a fun time booking appointments for people who called in, though there were a few strange encounters when people asked me if I was the one who gave massages. (No, weirdo, I'm 18 years old. Leave me alone.) I ended up landing my friend a job as well, so we got to work together in our matching polos and that was super fun. I also snagged some free or very discounted massages- a MAJOR perk. (They're the best!)

Things I learned as a receptionist:

1. I am awful at trying to talk people into buying things (and I hate asking for money). I made commission off of shared memberships, but trying to sell them to people was the worst.

2. People are sometimes really rude or unkind, and we just have to do our best to love and serve them.

3. Sometimes you do the weirdest things, or tasks you don't like, just because you have to. And if you do them with a smile and make the most of them, they can even be kind of fun.


In all honesty, I never would have done the Massage Envy gig if I would've been old enough to be a server. I knew that being a server at a restaurant was something I'd always wanted to try. I thought it sounded fun to balance all the tables, make some extra tips, and get free food sometimes. Plus I love talking and meeting new people, and the time would fly while I was busy at work. Since I was a youngin' and didn't turn 18 until the week before I left for college, I had to wait until I returned home before I could try to get a serving job. Over Thanksgiving, I applied online at Mimi's, got called right away, and had an interview the next day. Since I didn't have any hosting experience, I didn't set my hopes too high. Turns out I got the job on the spot. I got my liquor license and food handler's license, and started training over Christmas break. And I loved it. It was so great that I kept coming back every Christmas and Summer through college, until I started student teaching. I'm sad to say that they did close recently (boy did they have good muffins and salads), but I'm thankful for my time there.

Things I learned as a server:

1. Always tip well. Always. Half the time, things aren't the server's fault at all.

2. People will find a reason to complain about anything and everything.

3. Some people are oblivious to the fact that you've got six tables at once. Others are really gracious.

4. Sometimes people choose to surprise you with their generosity, and it means so much. (Case in point, $50 tip over Christmas!)

5. Don't ever forget to say "Corner!" when you round the corner with hot food...or you'll end up wearing it.

6. Sometimes you have to balance holidays with work. Don't take it for granted when you don't.

Yes, a girl I know legitimately snapped this photo of me in all my Mimi's glory. Awkward. 

You know what I learned from all of these jobs? That working hard is always the best way to work, a positive attitude goes a long way, and that there's fun to be had and people to meet in all that we do. Once I graduated college, I jumped right into my job as a teacher, and I've never looked back. Work is hard and stressful sometimes, but it's always worth it. Doing something that you love is the best. If you haven't found a way to do something you love and make money doing it, I'd challenge you to rethink your work. It's never really too late. Check out the awesome Job Search at The Ladders for a head start.


Do you have some fun first job stories? What did your first job experiences teach you? Share in the comments before, or on the Currently, Kelsie Facebook page


  1. Great post! Obviously, I don't want to go back to my food service days, but I learned so many great lessons.

  2. It's great that you had such wonderful experiences. Not all my jobs were such...and I have done a lot of things from waitressing (I discovered that I am a terrible waitress-my memory has never been good) to a chemical technician (hated chemistry-go figure). Had my own business (like you, not great in sales-doesn't work so well when you're the boss), worked in retail (loved) and many, many others. Now, I work for my grown son's landscaping business as the office manager. With a positive outlook and the right placement, you can make a good job a great job! But it sounds like you're where you want to be for now.

    1. Agreed- not every one has a great time at their first jobs! I'm glad you've found how to make a good job great. Thanks for reading!


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