Rather, the job entailed emptying the trash, chasing people to pay for court time, cold calling to sell lessons, and cleaning unspeakably dirty bathrooms. "Glamorous" was certainly not the appropriate word to use for this position. Despite the unpleasant tasks that made up the job, I learned some valuable lessons that are applicable in any personal or professional situation.
1. Always do the right thing, even when no one is watching.
I was the only person in the office at the courts most of the time so my boss was not there to see how I was performing. While this fact led my co-workers to skimp on the work they did and do a subpar job, I maintained my usual high standard simply because it is the right thing to do. Although I thought no one took notice, some customers commented to my boss and in return I got recognition from him. When you are working, or doing anything really, it is essential to always do your best so that you are doing right by your company, but most importantly by yourself.
2. You have to demand that people respect your time, because they won't automatically.
In an ideal world we would all respect each others' time, always be early, and generally get things accomplished a lot faster. As it turns out we don't live in a utopia so we must actively stand up for ourselves. Since each employee was normally alone at the courts we had to wait for the next person to arrive before we could leave. Once my co-workers got to know me and my good nature, they realized that I wouldn't say anything if they arrived late. Not only wasn't I paid for that time I was waiting and my after work plans were delayed, but it was also a demonstration of the lack of respect I was afforded due to my undervaluing of my own time.
I wish that I had learned and implemented this lesson sooner, but I suppose it's better late than never. I now respect my own time and guard it fiercely. I am vocal about my expectations and outline obligations so I am on the same page with those I work with. This can be applied in any aspect of life and makes a phenomenal difference when it comes to your productivity.
3. Talking on the phone really isn't that scary.
So, sort of like driving, I started out my job with a fear of talking on the phone with strangers. I'm not sure what exactly I expected to happen when I spoke with them or what they would do to me (they weren't actually in my presence after all...), but I had this feeling that something awful would happen. With being required to make countless calls a day I eventually got used to it purely by virtue of doing it so often. Now I'm pretty much a pro on the phone and have abolished that fear. There really wasn't anything to be worried about. If you have something that makes you apprehensive, just remember that experience will usually cure it.
No matter what your first job is, you are sure to learn something from the experience. Although it may not always be what you expect you can take pearls of wisdom from every position!
What did you learn from your first job?
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