First Job Influences that Carry on

Do you remember your first job? I do. I was a high school junior when I started my first job at a grocery store as a Courtesy Clerk, which is a polite way to say ‘bag boy’, or ‘bag girl’ in my case. I worked Friday and Saturday nights and every holiday. After a few months of grocery bagging and rounding up the carts in the parking lot for 2 hours of every shift, I learned a lot about myself and quickly decided this was not the job for me.

Often these humbling first jobs offer quite a bit of insight. I learned some important lessons in business and life that have stuck with me ever since. Take a look at four that are most important:

Management and Workplace Atmosphere Make All the Difference in the World

I decided to leave cart pushing behind for a higher paying position at Pier 1 Imports, a retail store specializing in imported home furnishings and décor. Not the most glamorous of jobs, but I enjoyed the atmosphere and my fellow workers. I made my way up to a management position within my first year and ended up staying five years.

Though I was on my feet all day, and had to unload 40 foot truckloads of furniture and décor once a week, I had a blast! The team was very supportive and upbeat. The store manager was full of encouragement and handled critique with a positive spin. She taught me about the importance of customer satisfaction. The point is, you don’t know what kind of culture you’re going to fit in with until you start interacting with your coworkers.

Customer Service is Always Top Priority

The relationships you build with customers helps to grow business and makes it a lot more fun. I listened to customer’s stories, and laughed with them. This instilled their trust in me and felt I was sure to take care of their needs. I learned how to interact with people from all walks of life and with different concerns. Knowing how to adapt uniquely to each situation is a life lesson I carry with me to this day.

Be Sensitive When Resolving Conflict

You wouldn’t believe the things people would return to a retail store: items that came from other stores, broken dishes that we no longer carried, even empty bottles of room spray! I learned how to resolve conflicts in a way that keeps the conversation pleasant and helps people accept the word “no.”

Appearance Matters

I learned quickly that how you dress makes a lasting impression on people and directly affects how they treat you. While I was required to wear khaki’s or black pants with a plain colored top, I always kept my appearance professional, clean and tidy.

Your first job may have been ages ago, but it taught you more lessons than you may realize. From the importance of atmosphere and how to deal with conflict, your entry to the workforce was a never-ending learning experience. Consider your first job, and apply those lessons to your current role. How did your first job influence you?