Activity Idea: My First Job

A great activity for high school/college students who have held jobs.  Give them the option to reflect on the experiences  of their first jobs through the written word or via short 2-3 minute video.  To get them started thinking about this, here’s an entertaining video about the travails of a Weinermobile driver:

http://www.marketplace.org/node/151628/player/storyplayer

Here are a set of reflection questions that you might consider (my answers below):

  • How did you get your first job?
    • Dog walker at age 7/8
  • What were the basic responsibilities that your job entailed?  Was the job flexible enough for you to go beyond these basic responsibilities?
    • Walk my neighbor’s dog 2X/day in rain, sleet or snow which was standard for New Jersey winters.
  • How would you describe your manager’s style?  Was it effective in managing your work?  Why or why not?
    • Mrs. B was an elderly woman who had broken her hip.  She was always very appreciative when I showed up and when I brought dog back from a good run.  I remember nice conversations with her also as she had an interesting life as an Italian immigrant who was a successful restauranteur (she made a great pizza from scratch)!
  • Did you receive any feedback about how you were performing?  Was that useful?
    • She was always very positive in her feedback which motivated me to show up every day.  If I was ever late, there was the risk the dog would become anxious and you know what could happen next.
  • How much did you earn in the job?  Did this change how you thought about money?
    • I think it was $5/week (or about $24 in today’s dollars).  Every Friday I would amble down to the bank to deposit it which started a lifelong habit. I knew how much work went into earning it (14 dog walks/week), so couldn’t see spending it on stuff that I didn’t really want.
  • What did you like most/least about your job?
    • Helping out Mrs. B. was the best part.  Also it was great exercise as the fox terrier that I walked, Dice, had a ton of energy and our walks were usually runs.  The worst part:  being chased around the neighborhood by a Mastif who didn’t take kindly to Dice.
  • What was your best day at work like?  What made it so extraordinary?
    • No one day really stood out. 40+ years later I still remember our great conversations as she was quite a storyteller.  I also remember the great degree of responsibility I felt with this job.
  • What did your first job teach you about the “world of work?”
    • The importance of being reliable.  In this case, the consequences of not being there to walk the dog were nearly catastrophic to an elderly person with mobility issues.  I am not sure I ever missed a day (my Mom was good at reminding me of these things!) I also learned the importance of listening to and serving the customer. If the dog needed an extra walk, I did it no questions asked (the advantage of an adult asking a 7 year old to do something is they usually say yes, or at least I did!).

Enjoy!