I remember my first job clear as day. I was a lifeguard at the local high school pools, and I’ve got to say – I had it pretty good. My primary duty was to sit there and watch the patrons, keeping a close eye on the ones who were weak swimmers. So that’s what I was doing the majority of the time: sitting on a stool, turning my head back and forth. Occasionally, I’d get up and walk around.
However, sometimes I had to do stuff I really, really didn’t want to do. If a competitive swimmer puked after a long, hard race, the lifeguards had to clean it up. If a little kid took a sh*t in the pool, we had to fish it out (UGH). On our off shifts, we would scrub mold off the shower walls, spray down the locker room bathrooms (which could get pretty grimy), and wipe the cobwebs out of random corners of the facility. The worst duty, however, was making the place spotless after a swim meet. The pool deck, which was pretty sizable, would be littered with soggy PowerBars and popcorn and bagels and potato chips and whatever else the concession stand was selling that day. It was our job to step around the mess and clean it all up, using gloves, a big trash bin, and a hose.
The best lesson I learned at my first job was humility. Wiping down poop-stained pool toys taught me that no one person is better than another. And today, I’m all the more grateful that I entered a field I really love – my current job involves duties I enjoy carrying out. Every day, I get to write about career, travel, dating, books, and sex. Altogether, I feel pretty #blessed. (Most annoying hashtag in the world, but totally appropriate in this case.)
I asked the POPSUGAR editors the most impactful lesson they learned at their first jobs, and the results were nothing short of awesome. Like me, you may learn a thing or two from their stories. Check it out.
1. Lesson: Figure it out.
My first job was an editorial assistant at a small magazine in LA. Definitely a little harsh, but it’s been super useful. Since it was my first job, I really didn’t know how to do anything. So I went to my seniors constantly: “I can’t do this because X,” or “This story is late because X.” Again, it was WAY HARSH, but I learned the importance of figuring it out. No one cared why an assignment was hard, or why a story came in late. It was up to me to problem-solve on my own, and that was an invaluable lesson. I’m able to figure out so much stuff now just because I force myself to figure it out. And more often than not, I do figure it out, and I surprise myself.
– Rebecca Brown, brand content editor, fashion and beauty