First Seven Jobs
#firstsevenjobs and what I learned from each
- cashier at Hardee’s – customer service (I’m talking to you guy in summer of 1976 who came to my register every day in the middle of the lunch rush and requested the special-order fish sandwich with no tartar sauce and skim milk) and working quickly but accurately with a cool head
- cafe worker at a health food cafe – teamwork, working cheerfully under pressure and nutrition for becoming a vegetarian
- Receptionist at law firm – how to deal with difficult people under stress
- Live-in personal assistant for sports lawyer – multitasking while in college, time management, understanding that you can’t always control the hours you work, the importance of being flexible and being willing to manage a lot of egos. I will also add that this was the first and only time I was sexually harassed on the job. In 1982, a famous chef at a brunch quietly followed me downstairs as I was replenishing the champagne for the guests. He pushed me up against a wall and stuck his tongue in my mouth and put his hands all over me. I quietly but very firmly pushed him away, said nothing and ran back upstairs. I was silently panicking but continued pouring champagne. I was afraid to be alone in the same room with the chef. He was old enough to be my father and was a friend of my boss. I was 20, unprepared for something like that and was worried about making a scene with 50 of Washington’s glitterati upstairs watching Wimbledon and drinking mimosas. I later told my boss that I was uncomfortable and wasn’t sure what I should have done. I am still indebted to my boss for his response, “You shoulda slapped the hell outta him.” He gave me permission to have healthy boundaries and that has stayed with me ever since.
- Fitness Instructor at Capital Hill Gym – that fitness would be a life-long commitment and that bringing enthusiasm to a task can transform the mood of a room
- Intern at Amnesty International – that organizing people effectively can change the world, how lucky I am to be born in the US
- Intern at Foreign Policy Magazine – proof-reading, publishing and the importance of having a well-considered point of view
There’s always something to learn in every job, no matter how menial or seemingly unimportant. To work is to learn. To work is to grow.