In This Issue:
Maybe you happened to catch that recent episode of Oprah when celebrities revisited their first jobs—famous Southern cook Paula Deen was a bank teller, model and T.V. host Brooke Burke worked in a pretzel shop when she was 15 and American Idol judge Randy Jackson stocked grocery store shelves at the age of 13.
The lessons of first jobs stay with you for life, and those jobs give you the confidence to climb the corporate ladder and the work ethic to persevere in even the toughest of workplaces. Take, for instance, the first-job experiences of some of New Jersey’s most influential workers. Charlie Wowkanech, president of the New Jersey AFL-CIO, which represents more than 1 million members of labor unions in New Jersey, collected his very first paycheck delivering newspapers at age 12 for the Paterson Evening News. Sharon Taylor, senior vice president of human resources for Prudential and chair of the Prudential Foundation, first worked as a short-order cook and waitress at the Woolworth’s department store lunch counter. Caren Franzini, CEO of the New Jersey Economic Development Authority, sold clothes from a young age in her family’s retail store in Atlantic City.
A story came out in USA Today a few years ago that asked dozens of executives in major corporations about their first jobs and what they learned. Every single one of them, from Tim Gannon, founder of Outback Steakhouse, to George Jones, CEO of Borders Group, had worked as teens. Do you see a pattern here? Job experience, especially in your teens, can lead to success. Chris Kearney, CEO of SPX who first loaded beer trucks for a living, perhaps said it best in that USA Today article: “Approach every job as if it's the most important thing you will ever do. If you are committed, you will be successful.”
A part-time job is one of the best ways to get valuable work experience and earn yourself a little spending and saving money. Not convinced? Here are a few reasons you’ll be glad you filled out that job application:
R esumes look oh so good with a history of employment.
E xperience will help you build skills and make informed decisions about your future.
A mbition is an important ingredient to great success.
L essons you learn in teen jobs stay with you for life—just ask any powerful CEO.
Work ethic—as in working hard and being on time—is priceless.
O h how good a healthy bank account feels!
R esponsibility builds character and is the best way for you to learn what you’re made of.
L ifeguards, grocery clerks, babysitters, burger flippers—all add value to your resume.
D eveloping better people skills is important to success in work and life.
Check out what these New Jersey teens learned from their part-time jobs:
Name: Katie Curtin
School: Ridge High School, Basking Ridge
Part-time Job: Hostess at The Grain House, Basking Ridge
Salary: $10 an hour
“I worked four nights a week over the summer and now I work Sunday brunches during the school year. I love working there. I love being around people, talking with them and interacting. Sometimes it gets crazy. The phone is ringing off the hook, people are coming in and out and it’s really busy. You learn to handle it all.”
Name: Tim Spencer
School: Hunterdon Central Regional High School, Flemington
Part-time Job: Owner of Spencer’s Lawn and Gardens, West Amwell
Salary: $10 an hour
“On my busy weeks over the summer, I was putting in about 12 hours a week, cutting lawns, landscaping maintenance, designing, planting and weeding. I absolutely loved it. One of my goals is to start my own landscaping business after school and grow it into a big corporation. This job has put my view of time management into a whole new light. Working, especially for myself, I had to manage my time so I could get more stuff done efficiently and plan how much I could get done realistically in a day.”
Think you’re not ready for working in the real world? Think again. Here are five important ways that school prepares you for the work world…you can do it!
Writing Skills. When asked what skills they value most, employers often say they want to hire strong communicators. All those school essays, lab reports and research papers are preparing you for that climb up the corporate ladder. Leave the texting lingo for friends and work on making your writing clear and effective. That goes for your speaking skills too.
Attention to Detail. A good employee is a thorough employee—yes, that means dotting those “i”s and crossing those “t”s. So every time you double-check your math problems and revise your research papers, you are honing your detail-oriented skills.
Honesty. When you make your work your own and resist the temptation to cheat or copy your friend’s great ideas, you are building an honest work ethic that any employer will value. The most creative thinkers will rise quickly through the ranks.
Time Management. Someday soon you will have to meet your boss’s tight deadlines and make sure you are on time to every meeting. Sound daunting? Hey, you’re already practicing when you balance time for schoolwork with time for friends, soccer practice and student council.
Problem Solving. Employers these days crave clever thinkers. How can we get our products to sell better? How do we beat the competition? How can our company become more productive? Every school assignment is an opportunity to weigh your options and work out effective solutions. That experience will prove priceless when it comes to working out problems in the real world of work.
Read an expanded version of this article by visiting http://www.njnextstop.org, clicking on the Advice 101 column’s Show All feature and selecting “Real World Prep.”