Before most of us started working in “the real world,” we had several part-time jobs. We babysat. We worked in fast-food restaurants. We worked in retail. We worked as a waitress or waiter at a bar. If we came home and complained after a hard day’s work, our parents would tell us that someday we would realize the value in the job we had.
Do we now realize the meaning of those words? Every job taught us something, not just about work ethic, but also about life.
Everyone’s been to a restaurant with bad service. You have a slow, inattentive server. Your food comes out the wrong way. And as a result, you tip the bare minimum — or nothing at all.
But have you ever stopped to think that it’s not always the server’s fault? (I mean, sometimes it is, but not always.) He or she could have given the cook your correct order — but the cook messed up. A colleague could have called in sick, leaving your server with all of the tables in the restaurant. Yet the server takes the blame.
What you’ll learn: A job in food service teaches you empathy. Not only for the server, but for people in general. After all — not everything is as it seems. Think about that the next time you want to leave a next-to-nothing tip.
2. Retail clerk
You can always tell if someone has worked in retail before. Those who haven’t sometimes treat sales clerks rudely or like they are above the workers. They may act as if the associate’s only job in life is to assist in their retail therapy. Those who have worked in retail tend to have a little more patience with the sales associates and are more respectful toward them.
What you’ll learn: Just because someone’s job is to help you doesn’t give you the right to be rude or disrespectful. Those two virtues — patience and respect — will take you a long way in the way you treat other people.
Think about all of the times you’ve called customer service, whether at an airline, a cable company, your cell phone provider or an insurance company. Chances are, you called when you were angry or had a complaint. You probably chose to take your frustrations out on the customer service rep.
After working in customer service — specifically at a call center — you’ll hopefully change your behavior. You realize that whatever you’re upset about is not the rep’s fault. In fact, you know they want to help you.
What you’ll learn: A job in customer service can teach you kindness and will make you think twice about the way you treat people.
4. Manual labor
It goes without saying that manual labor of any type, whether mowing lawns or construction, is hard work. Those who perform manual labor or have in the past know that the hours are long, the work is hard and you have to pay attention to everything, as safety is a large issue in most manual labor positions.
What you’ll learn: More than anything, manual labor will teach you work ethic. There is little room for error and no matter what you’re doing, you’ll be working hard.