My first jobs: market differentiation, responsibility and training


There’s a recent Facebook meme where people are listing their first jobs. Between that and Labor Day, I’ve been thinking not only of a list of my first jobs, but what I learned from them.

My first jobs were babysitting, working in a bagel store and being a summer replacement teller at a bank.

I didn’t realize it at the time, but from babysitting, I learned to differentiate myself in the marketplace. I took a Red Cross course on babysitting, and one of the suggestions in the course was to make a “babysitting kit” with some small toys or books to help distract your charges while the parents left. Kids always love other people’s toys, and I was very popular.

From working in the bagel store, I learned responsibility. Although I was in high school, I was trusted to close the store on my own. It was hard work, and it was readily apparent if I slacked off. I also learned how difficult it can be to work with customers. The owners of the store were nice, and that made it easy for me to be nice to the customers.

At the bank, I learned how physically taxing it is to stand on your feet all day. And I learned there is no substitute for strong training. Summer tellers are college kids who go from branch to branch to fill in when other people are on vacation. It felt like I was going from transaction to transaction without having a firm grip on what each transaction required of me.

What was your first job, and how has it shaped your work style today?

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