(Warning: This message is probably more suitable for high school and college kids. If you're older, you can still read and add comments where you feel necessary. If you're older but are in denial, well, who am I to judge, read on!! Haha)
Last Wednesday, this intern started working at our office.
He came into my office, all shy and seemingly innocent. He wore what was probably his nicest shirt, cotton pants and formal shoes, and shook my hand with a smile. His smile was sincere, I could tell.
After our brief shaking of hands, I led him to the room where three of my staff worked, introduced him as the new intern, and left him in their care. I laughed a bit as I walked away, thinking about that poor kid who had no idea what he was getting into. But if he was anything like me, he would walk away at the end of his internship with his head held high, knowing he was ready to face anything.
I went back and forth to that room to monitor how he was doing, and I couldn't help but feel reminiscent of my own early working days. Geez, that was a heck of a long time ago!
I started working when I was 19, almost 20. I actually celebrated my 20th birthday on the job. Why did I start so early? Easy answer, I dropped out of college. Was it a choice? Definitely not. I just couldn't afford it anymore, and couldn't get student loans. Sad right? Yeah, tell me about it. But before you go all teary eyed and feel sorry that I don't have a Bachelor degree like everyone else (well, maybe not everyone) - don't be. I am happy I started working early. By the time my friends had finished college and just started working, I was already a Manager. So woo-hoo for me! Seriously, no regrets - everything worked out for the best. And this doesn't in any way mean that it's OK to quit college halfway. If you can get your degree, then gosh darn it, go get it! Stay in school!!
Anyway, back to my rambling, I started my first job thinking it would be easy. I thought it would be like the summer jobs I used to have, you know, a temp reception kind of job where I'd answer telephones, get people coffee, copy some stuff, fax some stuff, type some stuff. I mean, with no experience and no degree, I always thought that that would be how I started off. Stress free, happy go lucky, a smile on my face every day.
Nope, that's not how I started. I was assigned to something else entirely: telemarketing sales. Oh God, it was an awful job. No offense to anyone who does it, but I really, really, really hated it. I hated that I had to wear a headset all day long that would automatically dial a new number as soon as I hung up on the previous call (without so much as a single minute's break!), I hated that I could hear myself breath through the mouth piece on the stupid headset, I hated that I was calling people and interrupting them, I hated when they were rude to me on the phone, I hated when they would hang up on me without even letting me speak first, I hated that some guys actually tried to hit on me over the phone, and I certainly hated that even though I made a sale, it didn't make me hate the job any less. Did I mention I hated the job?
At times, I would get so stressed over going to work that I would get heartburn and end up feeling sick and barfing the whole day. No joke!
But you know, after a few weeks, I managed to get a grip and suck it up. Thanks to Mom dearest who kept reminding me that I needed the experience, the network, because I might have good use for all of it one day. She told me that everyone has to start from something crappy, in order to be able to have a deeper appreciation for other things, that other things will seem much more rewarding.
In the end, I stayed at that job for nearly two years, got promoted twice (that means 2x the salary too) and transferred to a much more interest job in the marketing and communications department and that job was basically how I got introduced to the job I have now (which I have had for the last NINE years). Rewarding? Yup, I think so. Was it easy to come by? Not at all.
At the end of the day, this is what I think: every first job will be basically pretty crappy - but if you work hard, pay your dues, and try to learn everything there is about that job, eventually it will equip you to be ready for something bigger and better that's patiently waiting around the corner for you. It's never going to be easy, and don't ever let your young, naive, innocent college brains think it will be. Trust me, it's going to be hard. But it's going to be worth it, more than you could possibly imagine.