Getting your first job is an exciting rite of passage! Whether you are looking to save up for something in particular or are just eager to get some experience, knowing where to start can be overwhelming. Based on our interaction with hundreds of young people, here are some suggestions on the best first jobs.
“My pleasure” is the Chick-fil-A standard for customer service, and I can’t think of a better company to work for if you’re starting your career journey in the fast food industry. We have had numerous Praxis participants come from a Chick-fil-A background, and many of them had the opportunity to grow during their time as a team member and even started training new employees! Have a stigma in your mind about working for a fast food company? Go ahead and get rid of that.
If you’ve ever waited in the morning drive thru line, you know Starbucks is a fast-paced environment. Being a barista means developing great communication skills as you interact with customers who are often in a caffeine-deprived state. Starbucks also has a massive menu, and you’ll need to know how to make the various combinations of drinks within days of starting the job. The ability to learn quickly is an impressive skill that is transferable to any job you take on next!
A grocery store is an excellent place to get a variety of experience. Cashiers and baggers hone their customer service skills while deli and bakery clerks balance both customer service and trying out sales tactics. Stockers learn about the internal operations and inventory processes and can work to improve their efficiency in order to stand out. Starting off in an environment that builds multiple skills is a great way to learn what you’re naturally good at and what is going to take some more professional development.
Landscaping is hard work. It is physically demanding, often in the harshest of temperatures, and requires attention to detail in order to ensure repeat customers. Even if you don’t work for a formal landscaping company and just regularly mow a few neighbors’ yards, consider starting your own business. Numerous Praxis participants had landscaping companies as the beginning of their entrepreneurial ventures, and one alumni even used to drive his riding mower to clients’ houses because he didn’t have his driver’s license yet!
Did you play a sport growing up? Put that knowledge to use and become a referee! As a referee you’ll show that you can control chaos and keep your cool under pressure. Communication is a must when refereeing, and you’ll learn to adjust your communication styles to different audiences as you work with both children and their parents. Refereeing can also sharpen your confidence and decision-making skills as you’ll need to be the final word on a disputed call during a game.
Babysitting is a high-stakes first job. You are left to care for the most precious thing in someone’s life! Similar to landscaping, you can join a babysitting service, or you can start your own company to sell your services. Starting your own company will allow you to learn how about marketing as you’ll have to advertise to get clients! A few ideas to stand out include: getting CPR certified, posting on apps like Nextdoor, and ask your current clients for referrals.
Being a camp counselor is one of the most difficult summer jobs in existence. It’s a combination of being a referee and teacher and babysitter, but you don’t get to go home at the end of your shift because camp is your home. Proving your ability to manage a cabin of children for a week (or longer) is a notable accomplishment and shows you have patience and can solve problems quickly on your own.
How to Accelerate Your Growth in Your First Job
Regardless what job you hold first, there are many ways that you can set yourself apart from the crowd. By following these steps, you’ll also compound your growth and set yourself up for success later on in your career!
1. Look for problems to solve. Here’s the story of how Praxis Education Director T.K. Coleman overcame his issue of dropping trays at Olive Garden!
2. Build a Value Creation Mindset. It’s not that hard. And if you build this mindset today, you’ll make yourself so much more hirable! Here’s how.
3. Start building a digital paper trail. Document the value you’re creating. Be open about your growth! That’s what will speak for you as you keep growing in your career. Learn more about a digital paper trail here.
4. Learn to love your job, no matter what it is. Here’s how!
Of course, there are a ton of options out there for getting work experience, and as long as you find the experience valuable, do what works for you. The most important thing is that you get out there and get started!