As graduation looms at the end of this year, I’ve been thinking about my work experiences. I’ve realized every environment I’ve worked in has taught me something important about myself, my future career and how to deal in the real world.
Patience really is a virtue: When I was 17, I got my first job at Payless ShoeSource in our local mall. Like most retail workers, I learned quickly to take a step back and realize that sometimes people are going to do things you don’t like. My best example would be when a customer was messing with the extra stock on top of the shelves, after my coworkers and I repeatedly asked him to stop and offered him help. A couple dozen men’s dress shoes rained down in the next aisle shortly there after. Luckily, no one was hurt. Even though I was annoyed, I had to pick myself up and patiently put all of the shoes back.
Try everything once: The summer after I graduated high school, I got my first full-time job at a fraternal financial company. There were a lot of departments I could have been assigned to, but I was luck enough to end up in the printing department. It was the only department where I could wear jeans everyday. Do you know how exciting that is for someone who just finished 12 years of school uniforms?
Besides that obvious perk, I learned a lot about taking initiative. After I finished my own projects, I went around asking everyone if they needed help with anything. Since I was the newest person, there were a lot of tasks I couldn’t do, but they always managed to find me something.
Over the course of my university’s winter breaks and one more summer, I also worked in the shipping department, agency accounts and the mail department. Just like the printing department, I learned a lesson at each of those jobs. I’m glad I gave them all a try.
It’s important to de-stress: I had my first real internship the summer after my sophomore year at Drake. I started at the Iowa State Fair Blue Ribbon Foundation right before the break. I was working to help preserve an event that’s been a part of my life as long as I can remember. My grandparents have been camping and attending the Fair for what seems like forever. I loved that job.
That being said, it was stressful, especially during the Fair. I was riding around through crowds of thousands of people on my little golf cart. I had what felt like a million things to do. When I went home late at night, I could still see the crowds when I closed my eyes. I really wish that was a joke, but it isn’t.
So I learned I need to let some stress out occasionally. Now, I take some time to balance my work with time for myself. I know now that it will help me, but it will help my work just as much.
Now, I’m looking to the future. I can’t wait to see what I’ll learn in my post-graduation roles. Stay tuned.