I’ve worked at several jobs in a few different industries. I started working in 1994 (if you don’t count the three summers that I worked at a Scout Camp, mostly on the kitchen staff). It wasn’t until 2011 that I started working in my current career field of Information Technology, which I’ve found suits me very well.
Regardless, I feel that you can learn something from any job you work, no matter how good it bad.
I worked for a year at one job that I will never do again (a job I took just to provide for my family, not because I was interested in that line of work). I was a correctional guard working the night shift at a privately run prison.
- To start with, I was uneasy about the work. I’d previously worked in retail sales and as an educational assistant (computer lab monitor, tutor/TA)…all jobs that matched my core values of being warm, helpful and friendly with people. As a correctional guard, I had to basically put my true self aside and put on a persona (though still my normal fair-minded, even-tempered self, I couldn’t be warm, friendly or helpful).
- It took me six weeks to adjust to being nocturnal, and almost as long to adjust to work which was, on its surface, entirely dull and unengaging.
- I had to follow (understandably) rigid protocols and schedule, with little or no room for variation.
To keep my mind engaged, even in the fullest hours, I had to be creative, such as making minor variations in the security checks.
For example, while conducting an inspection of the perimeter fences (done at least once per shift): ‘I haven’t looked from this angle before’, ‘Let’s walk a serpentine path today’, or ‘If I were a member of the A-Team, what security points would I see as the weakest?’).
I didn’t feel like that employer was invested in me as an employee. They were supposed to enroll me in State-mandated training by my 60th day of employment… But they didn’t enroll me to start the training until a year after I started working there.
By that time, I was certain that Corrections was not the right career field for me, and I was already planning to move to be closer to family. That move would eventually lead to my best job (at least, the best so far).
My favorite job to-date was working on tech support at a university computer help desk.
- I got to use all my best self: being warm, friendly, helpful, and a technology nerd!
- The work was mentally-engaging, and personally rewarding from the satisfaction of knowing that is helped people solve their tech problems.
- I was involved with hiring and training new tech support representatives (TSRs). I got a lot of fulfillment watching them learn and grow in their customer service and technology skills, and I felt pride whenever any of these “baby birds left the next” (most were college students, who would leave when they graduated; some would move up to other Information Technology specializations even before they earned their degree).
- With any slow periods, I could focus on developing my tech knowledge, mentoring the TSRs, and writing technology help articles (or rewriting existing ones to be more customer-friendly).
Sometimes, the work could be so fast-placed that it could be a bit overwhelming. Sometimes it would make me mentally-exhausted in as little as half-an-hour:
- I was part of a great team of people (the Help Desk and the next tier support team just down the hall), and this team-atmosphere bolstered me.
- My manager there was the best work mentor I’ve every had, and he was great at recognizing and addressing his employees’ needs. It’s so refreshing when management recognizes that in order to “put customers first”, that their employees are THEIR customers.
- A person should do work which:
- Interests them
- Makes good use of their skills, talents, and education
- Gives them a path to grow and advance
- Let’s them be their best self
- For people to want to work for an organization, the employees should be:
- Treated well, valued by their leadership
- Properly trained and equipped
- Given authority, autonomy & accountability for their area of work