As college students with tuition, gas, food and clothes to pay for, it’s no surprise that many of us have part-time jobs to help support our finances. More often than not, our first jobs are in food service, retail and any other lackluster, elbow grease work we can find. And while the rude customers you deal with, the messes you clean up and the long hours you work absolutely suck, we can’t deny that these first jobs build an immeasurable amount of character and cast the things we see everyday in a different light.
Having worked my way up from “cashier” to “shift manager” at a restaurant myself, I feel as though I have dealt with it all. The first thing I learned when I got my first job last June was patience. It seems that people these days feel a sense of entitlement wherever they go to be helped; after all, “the customer is always right.” The man complaining about being unable to use an expired coupon, the woman demanding bigger water cups for customers, the teenagers who leave their tables looking like a Category Five hurricane blew through it—they’re all going to teach you a very important lesson on patience, so pay attention. As much as you’d like to be just as rude back, your job entails you keep your cool, and this will be useful for the many difficult people you’ll meet in the future. Kill ’em with kindness!
After having worked at the restaurant for so long, I’ve also had a chance to really understand responsibility. As a shift manager, I’m expected to come in early and stay late to open and close the establishment as needed, keep the place tidy and well-stocked, and ensure the money in the register matches the amount of purchases made for the day. You don’t really realize how much your work ethic matters until you find that the place doesn’t run as well without your efforts, and when you find yourself slowly climbing up the ladder at your first real internship or job, you’ll be prepared for the insane amount of responsibility hurled at you.
One of the most valuable (and possibly hardest) things I’ve learned since acquiring a job is money management. Your first paycheck will look like a pot of gold to you, and it’ll be easy for you to say, “It’s okay, I have money now” every time you make a purchase. But before you know it, all your money will be gone and you’ll be crying into a bucket of ice cream… not that I’m speaking from personal experience. As each paycheck comes and your job gets more and more tedious (because trust me, it will), you’ll start to really cherish each and every penny your hard work earns. When you open your first credit card, if you haven’t already, this will be the greatest lesson you learned from your horrible service job; after all, your future house, car, everything relies on your money management skills a.k.a. the oh-so-scary credit score.
Yes, our jobs are tiring, frustrating and just plain annoying at times, but we’ll probably force our children into doing the same, exact thing to teach them the good ol’ values we learned ourselves.
Have a few stories to share about your part-time job or internship? Share with us at #CampusCropChat!