I was recently taking a look through my LinkedIn profile and it dawned on me that it hardly tells the story of my work history. In fact, with only 4 real jobs listed it looks pretty boring. I had a ton of random jobs before I finished college. Which got me thinking (always a dangerous thing mind you) – do the jobs/internships we have before finishing college really matter? So to answer this question I sat down and compiled my pre-real job resume to see if any of these random jobs I had in my life really had an impact on me one way or another. Here goes:
Total jobs: 16
Delivered a weekly newspaper, sold hotdogs and peanuts at Boston College football games, cleaned parks for the City of Boston, scooped ice-cream and washed dishes at Friendly’s, cooked at a hospital, refereed kid’s soccer games, started my own landscaping company, was an IT guy for a VA hospital, manned the front desk in a dry cleaners, cashier in a super market, made pizza for Bertucci’s, waiter and cook for a local restaurant, served drinks at a comedy club, caddied for a country club, worked the deli counter a different grocery store, and worked for a catering company.
My wife is still amazed that I’ve had so many random job in my life. Random being the key word here. But actually writing down all of these different jobs made me realize that some of these early job experiences still influence how I do my job today. For example:
- Sometimes it’s not about the money. When I worked at Friendly’s I was the guy who did all the grunt jobs (washing dishes, prepping food in a tiny back room and in one particularly memorable experience cleaning the bathroom after a customer had an “accident”). At the time I was making minimum wage. So I worked up the courage to ask the store manager for a .25 raise. He said no and that I needed to work harder. Now mind you, given I only worked a handful of hours per week if he had opened his wallet and gave me a $10 it would have covered my entire raise. But he didn’t. Obviously this wasn’t about the money. It was about recognizing hard work which he didn’t care to do. So I quit.
- Except when it is about the money. One summer my friend Jamie and I decided to start a landscaping company (which we knew nothing about) and called it Quality Landscaping (between the two of us though we called it Two Dicks Landscaping since we would drive around in a white Monte Carlo with the trunk tied down to keep the lawnmower in place. We looked like a couple of dicks). Our very first job was a real landscaping job for which we were paid $2,000. We were 17 years old and this was more than we thought we’d make the entire summer. From that point forward we became all about the money. Simple jobs, we tried to overcharge for. Regular gigs just cutting the grass, we’d blow them off. Eventually the business just faded away. Why? Because our goal was to make some money for the summer which we did in our first job. We should have stopped right then and there!
- Culture really matters. In college a got a job working as a temporary IT guy for the VA hospital making $12 an hour plus vacation and sick time. It was a pretty sweet gig. But within the first week it became clear to me that I wasn’t really supposed to do any real work. And if I did, I’d better take my time. Seriously, a couple of guys pulled me aside and told me I was working to fast and making them look bad. The kicker was as the end of the summer was approaching my boss comes up to me and says “you look like you’re not feeling well. You should probably take some time off.” I was feeling fine I said. Then he says, “it sure would be a shame if you let all your vacation and sick time go to waste. You really should take some time off.” Got it. So I took the last 2 1/2 weeks of the summer off fully paid.
It’s funny, these experiences that we have early in our lives do matter and do have an influence on how we do our jobs today. I think I’ll go update my LinkedIn profile now.