EDITOR’S NOTE: We’re doing a series on recruitAbility employees’ first jobs and the lessons they learned. Below we hear from recruitAbility Director of Financial Services Damien Richburg, CFA. To read other posts in this series, click here.
I was in the 7th grade when a classmate referred me for my first job at a pizza parlor in Irvington, New Jersey. I worked behind the counter taking orders, putting slices in the oven, and dropping french fries in the fryer. Waiter-type stuff, mostly.
I remember earning $4 an hour. I worked about 15 hours a week and earned $60. It wasn’t a bad deal since I didn’t have any bills. I assume the restaurant collected tips, but I don’t recall getting any.
Either way, I was consistent and disciplined and always gave 100 percent. But when school started again in the fall, I quit the job to focus on track and field.
I remember the restaurant manager being disappointed when I told him I was leaving because I went above and beyond what they expected. Plus, I was cheap labor 🙂
Looking back, a few things stood out to me about the experience that I carry with me to this day.
- Be Intentional: The basic idea of having a job and getting paid for it wasn’t as awesome as I thought it would be. I learned that if you don’t have any idea what you want to do, then you can end up doing anything. Like most middle-schoolers, I lacked the vision for what I wanted to get out of the job aside from a paycheck. That made it less fun. Every job after that, I was more intentional about my goals.
- The Value of Non-Verbal Communication: People communicate a lot through gestures or facial expressions. Body language is extremely telling. At the pizza parlor, I developed a knack for reading people’s expressions to detect if they needed something else, or if something wasn’t quite right. This is a valuable skill that I use a lot even now.
- Self-Reliance: I didn’t have another steady job until college, but I found other ways to make money that fit my lifestyle. I bought items from a jewelry store and re-sold them to my classmates at a markup. I’d also buy candy at Walmart and sell it to students at a profit. These entrepreneurial activities honed my sales skills and gave me some independence. I learned to fend for myself and it built confidence.