6 December 2016

First the worst? Your job stories

Career Advice

First jobs can be rough.

I’ve dressed tiny plastic trolls in air hostess uniforms, worn a straw boater to serve breakfasts in Woolworth’s, and been forced to clean the gents’ loo in a burger joint. At the very least, they provide us with some great anecdotes. At best, they steer us onto a career path.

It’s at this time of year when we get all wistful and nostalgic, and ahead of the New Year job search (yep, that’s a thing), we thought we’d ask you to look back at your first job. How has it shaped your career?

Here are a few of your stories and the lessons you learned:

Catching the events bug

My first proper job was as an apprentice at the tender age of 16 for an exhibition organiser, back in 2000. That first apprenticeship was where I caught the events bug.

Fourteen years later, I launched my own event management company, my first ever client the National Apprenticeship Service. I now organise my own events, which would never have happened if it were not for that first job as an apprentice organising exhibitions.

Lindsey Fish runs www.mumsenterprise.events

Death by a thousand (paper) cuts

My first job, I’m sure, had a more normal title like ‘Administrator’, but essentially it was a ‘Folder Filler’. Banished to an outbuilding for an outsourcing training company, I was given training materials to put in ring binders (all 250 of them!). It was repetitive but good for self discipline, even if I did get a million paper cuts!

Jenny Austin, Recruitment Advisor at Avios.

Failure is a state of mind…

Before the Christmas holidays, I interviewed for a job advertised in the back of a newspaper. Still finishing a course, I assumed I was too inexperienced and a couple of weeks later had written off the job.

However, when I returned, I was surprised to find the editor had been trying to get hold of me to offer me the job. I ended up leaving college early. That taught me two things. First, never assume you have failed at an interview; second, always be easy to get hold of.

Steve Masters, Services Director at Vertical Leap.

I merMAID it!

The idea to become a mermaid came to me after appearing as an extra in Pirates of the Caribbean 4. I really do love my job and I hopefully have some amazing opportunities coming up next year. I’m also in the process of making my own tail!

Samantha Smallwood – aka Samantha Siren, mermaid.

From the frying pan, into the fire

My first job was working in a restaurant, washing up plates and pots at the age of 13 for £1 per hour. I soon got into cooking, completing my City & Guilds at college, then worked in the Hilton Hotel chain and in Australia.

Upon returning, I continued my rise, becoming one of the youngest Executive Head Chefs for Hilton Hotels in the UK – my last role in chef’s whites.

I do think it helped shape me as a person, as it’s a very hard environment in which to build a career: 12-14 hours day, 6 days a week and very fast-paced.

My recruitment career started at a very young ARM, working one day a week for free, to gain some experience outside a kitchen. More than 18 years on I am still here!

Lorne Adams, Technology Service Delivery Director, Corporate Services at ARM.

My employers weren’t very ice…

My first job was in an ice-cream parlour – £2.75 an hour, all the ice-cream and sweets you could eat. Then they threatened to fire me because I went up a dress size and that ‘wasn’t pleasing to customers’. Such a cheek! Feed you up then knock you down!

I was 14. I got my dad to call in an quit for me!

Deborah Bates, Web and Social Editor at Shelter.

I discovered a passion for sales

My first job was as a Sales Consultant in a sports shop in central Birmingham. Although now nearly 20 years ago, working there is a memory that I will keep for a lifetime.  My experience within this environment provided me with a career foundation to build on by giving me some early exposure to my profession of choice in sales.My time working there provided me with some great insight in how to communicate with people, how to handle objections from disgruntled customers and satisfied my competitive nature by working in a sales orientated arena.

It was also a very social environment and reinforced the value of teamwork. I feel lucky to have had this work experience.

Paul Fairclough, Client Relationship Director at ARM.

Looking for a new job in the New Year?

It’s incredible to think that those first jobs, however mundane or meaningless they may have seemed at the time, probably did shape your present career in one way or another. Whether it was obvious – you discovered a profession you were destined for, like Lisa – or not so much – like Lorne being readied for a career in recruitment by being put through his paces as a chef – these first steps into employment will have had a lasting effect.

As for your current role – how does it make you feel? Are you happy? Content? Fulfilled? Or are you one of those people who already has a New Year’s resolution to find a new job? If you are, then stay tuned to our ‘Jobs of the past, present and future’ blog, as we’ve got plenty of inspiring and useful articles coming your way in the new few weeks.

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