The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly: Students Spill All About Their First Jobs

At this point in our lives, most of us have had a first job. It could have been working for our parents, it could have been baby-sitting the neighbor’s kids, or it could have been filing papers in an office. Whatever our first job was and whether we liked it or not, at the time we were probably just happy that we didn’t have to ask our parents for money anymore. Some of us still might ask our parents for money, but that’s another story.

My first job was at a little family owned ice cream shop a few blocks from my house. What 15-year-old girl doesn’t want unlimited ice cream? This girl did. So I scooped ice cream and made the occasional milk shake and banana split – served with a dirty look for making me do extra work and wash extra dishes.

When no one was there I would read books or watch movies. A pretty peachy first job, but it didn’t teach me how to deal with many different kinds of people. One would think everyone going to get ice cream would be happy and cheerful. This is not correct. In fact, most people coming to get ice cream were miserable. The all you can eat ice cream made up for it, though.

The ice cream shop eventually closed down because people in my town don’t eat ice cream in the winter. I know, I don’t understand it either. So I moved on with my high school career and went through office and retail jobs.

Nothing I had ever done was too unusual. Of course, weird things happen at every job, but most of everything I’ve ever done at work revolves around me being nice to people. Some people, I found, don’t have common retail jobs, like I did, or restaurant jobs, like everyone else I knew did.

“My first job was being a janitor. I waxed floors, cut the lawn, painted walls and cleaned bathrooms. I got the job because my mom works in the school district where I worked. It taught me how to clean,” said Jeremy Corrente, a freshman homeland security major.

Dylan Hughes, a freshman criminal justice major, was first employed as a garbage man, something you wouldn’t really think of a student doing.

“Being a garbage man was very difficult; my mom’s boyfriend was the head of the DPW in my town and got me the job. I worked five days a week, nine hours a day. It was a tough job for a 17 year old kid, but the money was worth it,” said Hughes.

Senior history and education major Eric Szkodny still works at the first job he had. “My first job was a summer catering job that I got through a friend when I was 15. When I accepted the job, I didn’t know that the company was mainly involved in working at concerts and festivals. My first event with the company was Rock The Bells on Governor’s Island in NYC. I was given a lemonade stand in the middle of a field and after a quick demonstration of how to make fresh squeezed lemonade I was left, by myself, for the whole concert.”

Szkodny continues, “While I was getting the stand set up for the long day ahead of me I was approached by a group of people for lemonade. These were my first customers so I was a little nervous and when I looked up I couldn’t believe my eyes. Method Man from the Wu Tang Clan (who was performing at the festival) was my first customer! I was shaking while making the lemonade and gave it to him free of charge and in response he said “My man!” and gave me a fist pound. I still have this job and work for every summer. I’ve been front row at Drake and Lil’ Wayne concerts and back stage at county music festivals, but nothing will compare to my first day on the job.”

Robert Scott, a specialist professor of communication, explained that most of his life has been spent on and off fishing boats, from commercial to private to charter, which are all very different styles.

“All the boys started hanging out on docks and waited for boats to come in to clean them, it would be a competition. We were called wash-down boys, we’d sometimes help fillet the fish and clean for the tired fishermen. This gave you your first shot at working on a boat,” said Scott.

“I also worked on a lobster boat when I was very young until I got my first shot at working on the fishing boat. I did it professionally and just for fun. I would be on the boat full time for seven or eight months in Florida, the Caribbean, etc. and whenever we got days off, which was rare, we would fish for fun. I was still doing it every summer up until last year,” Scott continues.

Most of us have moved on from our first jobs, while some of us might continue working at these places today. No matter where you may have worked, good or bad, your first job probably taught you communication skills, money smarts, and most of all, independence.

Opening that first paycheck gives you an accomplished feeling, and as the years you go on, you realize every paycheck feels that good. Working for your own money is a satisfying feeling and the thought helps you get through the week a little easier. No matter how you may have felt about your first job, you can probably agree that it was a learning experience and has helped you get to where you are today.

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