Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Things I’ve Learned from Past Jobs

jobsIn No Grape Stomping or Candy Factory from Sioux's Page, Sioux  asks,

“What important things have you learned while on your jobs?  What was your favorite job or your most unfavorite job (and why)?”

(If you notice, Sioux’s Page inspires a lot of blog posts from me! If you get a chance, I definitely think it is a must-read and I make it a daily habit to read it!)

My first job was a cashier in a Chinese restaurant when I was 16. I worked one night a week for 2 years. Since I was the only person in my family who did not speak Chinese, everyone assumed that I did. Of course this meant I was either laughed at or looked down upon by the other Chinese workers in the restaurant. It didn’t help that my father was the maitre’d and there was very little social interaction allowed.

Next, I became a camp counselor in the summer at our local county park. This was fun and was my first chance to work with children who had disabilities. I realized that this was a possibility for me since I already knew I wanted to be a teacher of some kind.

After my first year of college, I returned home for the summer and knew I didn’t want to work in the Chinese restaurant again so I applied for jobs at anyone who would accept an application. I ended up working in a knitting factory that made coat sweaters. It gave me an understanding of the term “sweat shop” and I knew I didn’t want to do something like this for the rest of my life. In fact, the other workers knew it was a summer job for me and encouraged me to work hard and make something of myself.

During college, I worked at any job (short of selling my body) that would bring in money since I was paying for college myself. I worked in the dining hall for four years plus I worked cultural events (a certain number was required for students), and I worked as a dorm monitor (back when men and women did not live in the same dorms). These were all great experiences but now at reunions, I don’t know if some people were my friends or if I just served them food in the dining hall for four years!

The first summer away from home, I worked three jobs. I worked as a desk clerk in a sleazy motel from 7am - 3pm Mon. - Fri. It was the worst job of my life and I only lasted 2 weeks. My boss would grab me by my ear if I made a mistake and I went home many times in tears. I finally quit because he scared me. I also worked as a sales clerk at Fashion Bug (a clothing retail store in the mall) from 4pm - 10pm Mon. - Fri. On weekends I worked in the complaint department (or circulation department as it was officially called). That was where I met my future husband. This was different for me because it was outside of school and in a professional environment. Plus, it had nothing to do with education. The next summer I worked at the newspaper office during the week too. Eventually they had cut backs and there was no job for me anymore.

After that I became a summer camp counselor at the county park for several years. I was able to apply some of the things I had learned in the education courses that I had been taking during the year. This was fun and I was outdoors for the entire summer (rain or shine). I did this for several summers (even after I became a teacher.)

Finally I graduated college and became a teacher in the public school. I have learned so much from my students over thirty years. I am still learning something new all of the time. Now I teach teachers who are getting their master’s degree in special education. Teaching has been the best job I’ve ever had.

So, now that you have learned about my employment history, here is what I have learned:

1. Learn another language at an early age.

2. Don’t plan on a social life if you work with your father.

3. Some people like working in factories but it wasn’t for me.

4. Do whatever you need to do to pay for college and get a degree.

5. The people you serve food to may one day be your friends too.

6. Don’t stay in a job where you aren’t respected.

7. Working in a clothing store can get you a discount on some great clothes!

8. Summer camp is fun to work at and gets you outside.

9. Sometimes it is good to work somewhere outside your comfort zone.

10. Working at a career that you love makes the years fly by.

11. You never stop learning.

What have you learned from your job(s)? Please share.

Image: 'Social Media Camp 2009- Social Media for+the+Job+Search'
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Sioux said...

Getting your ears yanked? How horrible. You definitely have a job history that's varied.

A knitting factory? Did you knit before you worked in the factory, or did you learn after that?

Thanks for the shout-out, but I think we're both destined to having a small group of followers and an even smaller group of commenters. ;)

Pat Hensley said...

I didn't start knitting until 6 years ago but my mother and sister were knitters when I was growing up. Thank you for inspiring me to write!