Career, World Changers

3 Useful Lessons I Learned From My First Job

January 25, 2017 | Posted by Karina Rovey

First jobs are exciting. It’s a chance to make money, build a resume and feel like an adult. However, first jobs can be a little scary if you have no clue what you’re doing (cue my story).

I started working at Culver’s–a restaurant chain that serves burgers, ice cream and so on–in the spring of my freshman year. I can honestly say it was one of the most informative experiences that I have ever had.

So, if you’re looking into getting a part time job, then here are a couple tips I learned that might help you get off on the right foot.

1. Communicate your expectations upfront

Every employee’s situation is different. Chances are your boss or manager doesn’t know what your specific circumstances might be or what you want from the job. When I applied to Culver’s I was looking to only work one or two days a week due to my busy family schedule.

Naturally, my manager wasn’t aware of this. He scheduled me to work all day for three days in a row in my first week. I proceeded to have a panic attack. “I can’t work that much! There goes my social life!”

Thankfully, my sensible mother suggested that I talk to my manager to see if we could change things. And, what do you know? After a quick email explaining the situation, my manager was able to pull back on scheduling me.

Of course, I know that not all jobs (or managers) can be this flexible. So it’s important to communicate your expectations before you get your first schedule. That way you don’t end up having to work every Sunday during church or during your weekly sports practice.

And if you can’t meet the job expectations, then maybe it isn’t the right place.

2. Just do your best

Unfortunately, I learned very quickly that some people can be very impatient and rude, especially customers at fast food restaurants. And, since I was the one physically delivering the food to the customers, I often got the brunt of the impoliteness. It didn’t matter that the issues were commonly things I couldn’t fix.

Being the sensitive person that I am, I would take it as a criticism of myself anytime someone would complain to me or be frustrated by their experience at the restaurant. But gradually, I began to realize that some people were just going to be irritable no matter what. I couldn’t control that.

As long as I was working hard and doing the best that I could for the customer there was nothing else I could do to make them happy. Often times, after a customer said something snide to me I would just go back into the kitchen, take a deep breath and shake it off.

3. Hard work gets noticed

It’s easy to feel like hard work goes unnoticed in a hectic fast food environment. For example, there were times I became frustrated when I was working non stop to provide the best service while a coworker was just standing around doing nothing. To make matters worse, they also received the same benefits and recognition.

Nevertheless, as much as customers can be crabby as I mentioned before, I found that they are also equally appreciative of small acts of service and recognize the employees who go out of the way for them.

I strived to do my best to help customers. I was initially surprised that people would actually take the time to mention my name to my managers because of the simplest little things I had done like helping them with a high chair or offering to take their trash.

If you work hard, people do take notice, though sometimes it might not seem like it.

Overall, my first real job was full of mistakes, laughs and learning moments. I took away a lot, but these three lessons were probably the utmost things I learned from my time at Culver’s.

And not only do these lessons apply to high school jobs, but I feel like they hold true in school and other situations as well. Work hard, do your best, be up front and have fun!

Karina Rovey
Hi there. I’m Karina and I’m a sophomore in high school from Tennessee. I love Jesus, acting, playing guitar and traveling with my family. I am honored and excited to be a part of the World Changers team!