That First Summer Job

I was listening to a discussion recently on the summer job market for teens. I thought back to my first summer jobs and my first employment in general. After cutting neighborhood lawns as a pre-teen there was that camp counselor position through the YMCA. There was that television production internship in high school at pubic broadcasting. None of those jobs paid but both were invaluable. The camp counselor job at 14 taught me a lot about group dynamics, leading and managing small groups, human behavior of young children and the energy required to serve the needs of others first and myself second. Even though the television internship didn’t pay, I was gaining valuable experience in my chosen field and insight into how the real adult world works. I think my first paying job as a teenager was working behind the counter at a drugstore and doing deliveries for the pharmacy in West Hartford.

I know a lot of things have changed over the years. There seems to be a lot of pressure on young people to make the right choices, choose the right job, get into the right group so you can get into the right college into the right program and that will guarantee a happy error free life.Truth is there are no guarantees.

Ask yourself, What is important to you, finding joy in doing what you’re doing or making lots of money or both? What are you good at? Working with your hands? Building computer networks? Working alone or are you a people person? Are you good at crunching numbers? Do you have an eye for design? Would you rather work indoors or outside? Are you a self starter or would you rather be given a task to run with. Are you a good writer and communicator? Do you have a singular focus or can you see the big picture and how things interrelate. Would you like to create and own a business or manage one? Regardless of what you choose, ask yourself “What can I do to help or be of value to the person who is going to hire me?”

First impressions are important. If the job interview starts at 10 am, get there 9:50 not 10:20 with an excuse “I couldn’t get a ride.” Dress appropriately. Your outfit doesn’t have to be over-the-top expensive but you can wash, iron and shine the best you have. Be well groomed using good personal hygiene so that you present your best you. Be prepared and self-sufficient. Bring a pen so you can take notes and fill out that job application. Make sure the contents of any social media profile that you have is appropriate. That is an extension of you and can speak volumes about you, your attitudes, the type of person you are and how you interact with others. And last but not least, be yourself. That includes being honest in terms of your character and expectation. No one wants to entrust their business to someone who is dishonest or has different expectations. There’s nothing better than an authentic self with the right fit. Don’t be afraid to pursue something outside your comfort zone. It’s what growth and discovery is all about.

More from Dean Richards
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