Disclaimer: the following describes jobs I worked as a teenager and young adult, but I do not, in any way, think that older individuals working in these industries deserve any criticism. They are all just trying their best, and with everything, I do keep in the back of my mind how lucky I am to have gotten the opportunities I have.
My first real job as a teenager was working in a frozen yogurt shop. Thinking about it now, the amount of responsibility my boss gave to someone with no work experience was kind of weird. After about 10 months there, I was opening and closing the store by myself. In the same shift, I would be responsible for everything that happened that day. Basically, I was working by myself for between 8 and 10 hours. So the first significant thing I learned at this job was how to keep things in order, the second major thing I learned was how to cure boredom and stay mentally sane with little mental stimulation all day (a skill I would need again as a grocery store cashier). In all, it was a decent job, though, and I had a very lovely boss.
My next job was in retail at Ardene. At this job, I learned the importance of proper management and friendship at work. For me, my fellow employees are what made this job enjoyable. Also, retail customers are way nicer than fast foodservice customers, so this job really wasn’t too bad.
My manager and the rest of the management staff made the workplace so much more enjoyable. When I was pretty new there, something that made my week once at this job was a fellow coworker who I thought had a good fashion sense complimented my outfit as I walked in. I do not think she even realized how much this brightened my mood with one small sentence, I was happy to be at work. Stuff like this wasn’t uncommon in the workplace, and I felt very supported and like we actually were all friends. All employees were encouraged to be themselves, and management did a great job treating us like people and not just employees. Yet we still all knew our place in the workplace and respected those in charge; to me, it was a perfect balance.
As someone looking to have a career in the business world, I will always see the importance of proper management and hope I will be able to do it well when in a position of power. I would like to thank my last manager at Ardene, for showing me such a good example. Things at our store were not always easy. Still, management always kept the moral high, something I look back on and really appreciate.
March of my first year of uni, I was broke, and when I was offered a 40 hour a week job starting May 1st, I took it. Sadly for me, that job was in lawn maintenance. And so began some of the toughest months of my life. I know that sounds over the top dramatic, but as someone who loves to play sports and socialize in the evenings, being physically and mentally exhausted after work was really hard on me. It was that this point it really sank into my brain that sometimes we have to do things we don’t want. It was nobody’s fault but my own that I spent so much money in my first year that I needed to work so much.
By a weird turn of events 4 years later, I am still working for the same boss I worked for that summer, now though at a company that is structured very differently. Some days I am not a fan of his you can totally mow lawns in a 40-degree weather attitude, but I respect this man very much. He knows how to run a company and manage people, something that is not easy at all. Besides managing employees, he also deals with the craziest customers and manages to keep a level head, so much respect. Sometimes I need to smile and be polite and walk away, and this job has helped me learn that even when we feel we have been disrespected, sometimes it is really not worth it to pick a fight.
During my last year of University I worked at The Atlantic Superstore. This job was no different from any other cashier job but it was interesting working for such a big corporation. But I’ll be honest the job itself really not interesting, and not considering the people I worked with, probably my least favourite position I’ve held.
As I move forward, the biggest thing I have learned is how important it is to remember everyone is only human. Most retail and foodservice employees are trying their hardest. As customers, we are alone in stores for such a brief amount of time and do not see everything going on or has gone on that day. Also I have realized just how many people out there are lowkey crazy, and I have mad respect for people who work in retail and foodservice everyday. I really think everyone should work in a customer service job for a least a little bit, as it can really teach us humility and respect.