first jobs http://www.wisebread.com/taxonomy/term/1490/all en-US Ask the Readers: What Was Your First Paying Job? http://www.wisebread.com/ask-the-readers-what-was-your-first-paying-job <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/ask-the-readers-what-was-your-first-paying-job" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://www.wisebread.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/computer-4555664-small.jpg" alt="retro desk" title="retro desk" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="190" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p><em>Editor's Note: Congratulations to <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/ask-the-readers-what-was-your-first-paying-job#comment-671609">Michael</a>, Deb, and Kristen for winning this week's contest!</em></p> <p>For a lot of young of people, their first job comes with a bunch of other firsts: the thrill of the first paycheck, the first time they have "real world" responsibilities, their first forays into work politics, etc. Whether the experience was good or bad, the first paying job is, to many, a marker for adulthood.</p> <p><b>What was your first paying job?</b> How did you spend your first paycheck? What important lessons did you learn while on the job?</p> <p>Tell us about your first job and we'll enter you in a drawing to win a $20 Amazon Gift Card!</p> <h2>Win 1 of 3 $20 Amazon Gift Cards</h2> <p>We're doing three giveaways &mdash; here's how you can win!</p> <h3>Mandatory Entry:</h3> <ul> <li>Post your answer in the comments below. One commenter will win a $20 Amazon Gift Card!</li> </ul> <h3>For extra entries:</h3> <ul> <li>You can tweet about our giveaway for an extra entry. Also, our Facebook fans can get an extra entry too! Use our Rafflecopter widget for your chance to win one of the other two Amazon Gift Cards:</li> <a id="rc-79857d44" class="rafl" href="http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/79857d44/" rel="nofollow">a Rafflecopter giveaway</a><script src="//d12vno17mo87cx.cloudfront.net/embed/rafl/cptr.js"></script> <p><strong>If you're inspired to write a whole blog post OR you have a photo on flickr to share, please link to it in the comments or tweet it.</strong></p> <h4>Giveaway Rules:</h4> <ul> <li>Contest ends Monday, August 5th at 11:59 pm Pacific. Winners will be announced after August 5th on the original post. Winners will also be contacted via email.</li> <li>You can enter all three drawings &mdash; once by leaving a comment, once by liking our Facebook update, and once by tweeting.</li> <li>This promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered, or associated with Facebook.</li> <li>You must be 18 and US resident to enter. Void where prohibited.</li> </ul> </ul> <p><strong>Good Luck!</strong></p><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/ask-the-readers-what-was-your-first-paying-job" class="sharethis-link" title="Ask the Readers: What Was Your First Paying Job?" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><div class="field field-type-text field-field-blog-teaser"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Tell us about your first job and we&#039;ll enter you in a drawing to win a $20 Amazon Gift Card! </div> </div> </div> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/ashley-jacobs">Ashley Jacobs</a> and published on <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/taxonomy/term/"> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Giveaways Ask the Readers first jobs Tue, 30 Jul 2013 10:36:29 +0000 Ashley Jacobs 980864 at http://www.wisebread.com Why You Don't Need a College Degree to Succeed http://www.wisebread.com/why-you-dont-need-a-college-degree-to-succeed <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/why-you-dont-need-a-college-degree-to-succeed" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://www.wisebread.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/idea-man-5014973-small.jpg" alt="man with ideas" title="man with ideas" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Most people think that a college education is crucial for success in today's working world. However, many people also lament the outrageous cost of tuition these days. In fact, over the past several decades, tuition rates have increased at about <a target="_blank" href="http://www.finaid.org/savings/tuition-inflation.phtml">twice the general inflation rate</a>. (See also: <a target="_blank" href="http://www.wisebread.com/small-business/12-business-founders-who-succeeded-without-a-college-degree">12 Business Founders Who Succeeded Without a College Degree</a>)</p> <p>Could there be a way to get started &mdash; and succeed &mdash; in the real world without a college degree? Can you live large without budgeting for college?</p> <p>Absolutely.</p> <p>The fact is, there are tons of jobs available that don't require a degree. A high school diploma is all you really need to get started in the working world.</p> <h2>No Degree Required</h2> <p>As part of my research for this post, I did a broad search on <a target="_blank" href="http://www.careerbuilder.com/JobSeeker/Jobs/AdvancedSearch.aspx">CareerBuilder</a> for jobs that only required a high school diploma. Guess how many jobs I found?</p> <p>Over 100,000. That's a significant amount.</p> <p>Now, let me guess what you're probably thinking. &quot;Most of these are just sales jobs or entry-level jobs. I don't want to do those jobs forever! I can't get ahead in those types of roles!&quot;</p> <p>I'll address <a target="_blank" href="http://www.wisebread.com/why-a-lousy-job-can-lead-to-a-bright-future">the issue with entry-level jobs</a> later. But first, let's talk about sales jobs.</p> <p>Learning how to sell is a valuable skill. We're <a target="_blank" href="http://www.wisebread.com/small-business/5-ways-to-turn-every-employee-into-a-rainmaker">always selling in some way</a>, shape, or form. In fact, nothing happens in business until a sale is made.</p> <p>We sell ourselves when we're trying to convince a potential employer to hire us. We sell our ideas when we want our colleagues to take a particular course of action. And we sell our products and services so that we have enough revenue to pay our employees' salaries.</p> <p>So it literally pays to learn how to sell. And it doesn't need to be a sleazy profession. Selling can be done ethically.</p> <p>Now, on to the second issue&nbsp;&mdash; moving up from an entry level job.</p> <h2>Career Development Via Tuition Reimbursement</h2> <p>If you think you'll be confined to an entry-level position for the rest of your career, think again. You can gain new skills and further your education <em>after</em> you first get your foot in the door. Better yet, you can do this essentially without any money coming out of your pocket.</p> <p>How?</p> <p>As a <a target="_blank" href="http://www.wisebread.com/small-business/9-tax-free-employee-benefits">benefit provided to full-time employees</a>, many companies offer tuition reimbursement. This benefit covers educational programs that provide vocational skill development. Why would they do this?</p> <p>To gain a more effective workforce. The more skills you have, the more valuable you are to the company. And as an added benefit, they also get a tax deduction for this.</p> <p>Currently you can claim reimbursement for $5,250 worth of courses per year, every year. This, like a 401k matching contribution, is like free money that's too good to pass up.</p> <p>Drilling down on the previous CareerBuilder search, I entered the keyword, &quot;tuition reimbursement.&quot; More than 12,000 job openings showed up.</p> <p>So what courses should you take?</p> <p>There are many options, and you can certainly take courses that apply to your current position or likely career path. But I'm going to recommend a somewhat non-traditional class &mdash; <a target="_blank" href="http://www.dalecarnegie.com/events/dale_carnegie_course/?F_c=1">Dale Carnegie Course: Effective Communications &amp; Human Relations/Skills For Success</a>.</p> <p>Many successful people, including billionaire Warren Buffett, have taken and recommend this course. In fact, Mr. Buffett doesn't hang his diplomas from University of Nebraska or Columbia Business School on his office wall. He does, however, keep his Dale Carnegie diploma proudly displayed. &quot;<a target="_blank" href="http://www.theepochtimes.com/n2/business/dale-carnegie-program-celebrates-100-years-286110.html">It changed my life</a>,&quot; he said.</p> <p>If this course made such a huge difference in the life of one of the world's wealthiest men, what could it do for you and I?</p> <p>You can usually get this course reimbursed if you take it as part of a certificate program. I'm currently completing the program in <a target="_blank" href="http://www.dalecarnegie.com/assets/1/7/Organizational_Lead-_Sullivan.pdf">Organizational Leadership</a> [PDF].</p> <h2>Skills That You DO Need</h2> <p>I'm not saying that a formal degree isn't required in all cases. Obviously, if you want to enter a specialized profession, such as medicine or law, you'll need the formal training and education.</p> <p>Many other career paths, however, are not as stringent in their education requirements.</p> <p>If you have the drive, the focus, the commitment, and the self-motivation, you can succeed in the working world without a college degree.</p> <p><em>Have you found success in the working world without a college degree? What worked for you?</em></p> <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/why-you-dont-need-a-college-degree-to-succeed" class="sharethis-link" title="Why You Don&#039;t Need a College Degree to Succeed" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/darren-wu">Darren Wu</a> and published on <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/taxonomy/term/"> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Career Building Education & Training business education college first jobs Wed, 10 Apr 2013 09:48:32 +0000 Darren Wu 971675 at http://www.wisebread.com Retirement Planning If You’re Under 30 http://www.wisebread.com/retirement-planning-if-you-re-under-30 <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/retirement-planning-if-you-re-under-30" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://www.wisebread.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/young-woman-calculating-retirement.jpg" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="142" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Hey, you know what sucks? Being under 30.</p> <p>I&rsquo;m not saying that from personal experience &mdash; I&rsquo;ll be 30 in myself in just a few months, and I&rsquo;ve enjoyed my 20s just fine, thank you. But if you read any personal finance news or advice, being a 20-something is apparently <i>the worst</i> &mdash; we&rsquo;re saddled with student loans, burdened by a tepid job market, sinking in quicksandy credit card debt, supposedly spending our money wrong, having trouble getting health insurance, and, oh yeah &mdash; supposed to be saving as much as possible for retirement as quickly as possible.</p> <p>Well, that sounds easy! And fun, too!</p> <p>The reality is that, while people harp at us to start saving for retirement early, it&rsquo;s not always possible &mdash; or the best financial move. However, there <i>are </i>ways to start putting away for the future now &mdash; and not feel like a total miser while you&rsquo;re doing it.</p> <h3>1. Get a Sense of What You Need to Retire (but Don&rsquo;t Freak Out)</h3> <p>It&rsquo;s hard to work towards a goal if you don&rsquo;t have a concrete idea of exactly what you&rsquo;re trying to achieve &mdash; knowing the specifics of the goal makes it real and enables you to plan the concrete steps you need to take to achieve it.</p> <p>To get a better picture of your retirement future, take a look at this <a href="https://pro.genworth.com/riiproweb/productinfo/pdf/49427.pdf">Retirement Workbook</a> &mdash; it can help you better understand your situation and make a specific plan.</p> <div align="center"> <p><a href="https://pro.genworth.com/riiproweb/productinfo/pdf/49427.pdf"><img src="http://www.wisebread.com/files/fruganomics/u4/genworth-retirement-workbook.jpg" width="295" height="245" alt="" /></a></p> </div> <p>Remember, though &mdash; don&rsquo;t get nervous when calculating those numbers.&nbsp;While retirement planning is important, it&rsquo;s also a long-term project, and not something you need to do all at once.&nbsp;</p> <h3>2. Deal With the Most Important Things First</h3> <p>Before you start saving for retirement, you should ensure that you have fairly solid financial footing &mdash; saving for later in life will do you little good if there are things wreaking havoc with your finances right now.</p> <p>First, build an emergency fund &mdash; $1,000 is a good goal to start with. Most emergency situations &mdash; car trouble, unexpected job loss, even a medical bill &mdash; can be handled with $1,000. Eventually you want to have at least one month&rsquo;s worth of expenses saved up. Many experts recommend having three to six month&rsquo;s worth of expenses saved, and I think that&rsquo;s a great goal &mdash; but I also know from personal experience that it can be VERY hard for someone just starting in their career to even think about having that much money. So don&rsquo;t worry about that (yet).</p> <p>After you have a little bit of an emergency fund, focus next on your high-interest debt, such as credit card debt or private student loan debt (which often carries a higher interest rate than federal student loans). These debts can eat up thousands of dollars over the life of the loan, and if you look at the comparatively low interest rates currently available for savings and investments, it makes much more sense to pay off these debts before you put money away for retirement. Our writer Philip Brewer has more thoughts about <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/put-off-saving-for-retirement">why it&rsquo;s better to wait to save</a>.</p> <p>But you shouldn&rsquo;t wait forever. Which brings us to&hellip;</p> <h3>3. Contribute to Your 401(k)</h3> <p>If you work at a job that offers a 401(k) or a similar plan like a 403(b), you should begin contributing &mdash; even if it&rsquo;s only a tiny amount, and even if you don&rsquo;t think you&rsquo;ll be at the job long enough or aren&rsquo;t old enough to get a matching contribution from your employer.</p> <p>There are a few reasons why you should do this. First of all, these contributions are taken directly from your paycheck, and since the money is deducted automatically, you probably won&rsquo;t even realize that it&rsquo;s gone. Secondly, there&rsquo;s always the chance that you&rsquo;ll stay at the job longer than you think &mdash; long enough for your company to start matching your contributions, basically giving you free money.</p> <p>The third reason &mdash; and this is the reason why people will harp at you to start saving as soon as possible &mdash; is that the sooner you start saving, the longer you have compound interest working in your favor. That&rsquo;s why it&rsquo;s the first suggestion in this list of <a href="http://money.cnn.com/magazines/moneymag/money101/lesson13/index.htm">tips for planning your retirement</a> from CNNMoney &mdash; saving early can give you a huge boost in the long-term.</p> <p>Personally, I ignored the 401(k) and 403(b) at my first two jobs, annoyed that they wouldn&rsquo;t match my contributions until I had been there at least a year &mdash; or, in one case, until I turned 25. But I definitely regret that decision &mdash; if I had contributed some of my own money, I&rsquo;d have a much bigger nest egg today.</p> <h3>4. If You Don&rsquo;t Have Access to a Plan at Work, Open a Traditional IRA or Roth IRA</h3> <p>These two popular retirement savings plans each have their advantages. As the aforementioned CNNMoney article puts it:</p> <blockquote> <p>&hellip;a traditional IRA offers tax-deferred growth, meaning you pay taxes on your investment gains only when you make withdrawals, and, if you qualify, your contributions may be deductible; a Roth IRA, by contrast, doesn't allow for deductible contributions but offers tax-free growth, meaning you owe no tax when you make withdrawals.</p> </blockquote> <p>Basically, contributing to a traditional IRA can help you pay less (or get more back!) when you file your annual taxes, but you can&rsquo;t make a withdrawal before retirement age without paying a penalty. With a Roth IRA, you don&rsquo;t get the same annual tax benefits, but you can make early withdrawls.</p> <p>For this reason, I think the Roth IRA is especially good for people in their 20s. While I definitely don&rsquo;t advocate dipping into your retirement savings &mdash; what good is it if you don&rsquo;t actually use it to, uh, save for retirement? &mdash; it is nice to know that you can access that money without penalty if you absolutely need to. A couple of years ago, I was in a tough situation where I needed a car &mdash; and withdrawing some money from my Roth IRA is ultimately what made it happen.</p> <p>The key, as with the 401(k), is that you don&rsquo;t need to contribute a lot &mdash; <i>anything </i>can help. Consider saving your change, depositing it at the bank periodically, and putting that in your IRA. Or, if someone buys you a drink or a meal you were expecting to pay for yourself, put that money aside for retirement savings. Put half of your birthday money in the IRA. The important thing is to make these deposits when you can, even if they&rsquo;re small.</p> <h3>5. Don&rsquo;t Stress</h3> <p>Retirement planning is one of the most long-term things you will ever do in your life.&nbsp;And, while starting early has <i>huge</i> benefits, the long-term nature also means you have time to be patient, take care of more-pressing financial matters first, and spend your 20s saving for the long-term, yeah &mdash; but also having fun.</p> <p><strong><i>Are you under 30? Have you started planning for retirement? Share your thoughts in the comments.</i></strong></p> <p><i>This article was made possible by the support and inspiration from&nbsp;<a href="http://www.genworth.com/" target="_blank">Genworth Financial</a>, a S&amp;P 500 insurance&nbsp;company with more than $100 billion in assets. Check out Genworth's <a href="http://www1.genworth.com/content/lets_talk/ri_us/english/calculator.html">Retirement Income Worksheet</a>&nbsp;to plan for the life you want in retirement.</i></p><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/retirement-planning-if-you-re-under-30" class="sharethis-link" title="Retirement Planning If You’re Under 30" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/meg-favreau">Meg Favreau</a> and published on <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/taxonomy/term/"> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Retirement 401(k) first jobs IRAs saving in your 20s Fri, 05 Apr 2013 10:30:00 +0000 Meg Favreau 972278 at http://www.wisebread.com 10 Great Jobs for College Students http://www.wisebread.com/10-great-jobs-for-college-students <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/10-great-jobs-for-college-students" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://www.wisebread.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/college%20students.jpg" alt="College students" title="College students" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="167" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>September is coming to a close, you&rsquo;ve moved in to your dorm room or apartment, and you&rsquo;ve probably settled into the routine of your classes. Now perhaps you&rsquo;re wondering how to score a little extra cash so you can go on a dinner date instead of eating cereal for dinner as usual. Better yet, how can you make a little money but learn some valuable skills at the same time? The following jobs offer a flexible schedule as well as the potential to add some meat to your resume. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-5-best-credit-cards-for-college-students">The 5 Best Credit Cards for College Students</a>)</p> <h2>1. Tutor</h2> <p>Tutoring is an excellent job for a college student. The hours are usually flexible, and the pay is often excellent. In addition, you can learn some valuable presentation and communication skills by teaching a child or teenager &mdash; if you can explain algebra to a 16-year-old, what can&rsquo;t you do? You may tutor a pupil one-on-one in their home or teach larger classes at a learning center.</p> <h2>2. ESL Teacher</h2> <p>If you can speak English, you can likely teach it. Consider getting certified in Teaching English as a Second Language (TESL classes are usually available on a part-time basis or through intensive summer courses), which will allow you to work for a language school either at home or abroad. This part-time work can be parlayed into a summer job or full-time job after you graduate, and even if you don&rsquo;t pursue it further, you&rsquo;ve gained important presentation, public speaking, and communication skills.</p> <h2>3. Yoga/Fitness Instructor</h2> <p>Passionate about yoga, Pilates, or some other fitness program? Instead of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/where-to-find-free-or-cheap-yoga-classes">paying to go to fitness classes</a>, why not get paid? If you have enough experience under your belt, consider going through a part-time instructor certification program that will allow you to teach classes at your local gym or studio for a few hours a week. You may even be able to turn it into a career later on, or at least supplement your income if you find yourself in a pinch.</p> <h2>4. Social Media Guru&nbsp;</h2> <p>Who knew that those hours spent on Facebook and Twitter would pay off? As a tech-savvy young person, your social media networking skills are in high demand. Many types of businesses, from real estate to event planning to club promotion, hire young people to tweet and post about the latest happenings in the field. Get a job tweeting in your area of studies, and you may gain valuable connections for after you graduate as well.</p> <h2>5. Small Business Owner</h2> <p>It&rsquo;s never too early to start honing your entrepreneurial skills, especially when a large body of relatively cheap labor (read &mdash; other college students) is at hand. Start a painting or moving company or an after-school tutoring program, or start using your artistic skills in a photography or web-design business. Even if your business doesn&rsquo;t end up enormously lucrative, you&rsquo;ll have an amazing learning experience to add to your resume.</p> <h2>6. Nanny&nbsp;</h2> <p>You might have thought that your days as a teenage babysitter were behind you, but college is actually a great time to take babysitting to the next level. You are older and more responsible, and if you have a car, you are perfectly equipped to pick kids up after school and hang out with them till their parents get home. You can also command a higher hourly rate and show future employers how responsible and trustworthy you are. Becoming an au pair is also one of the best ways to travel around the world after you graduate while <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/jobs-that-offer-free-room-and-board">having your room and board paid</a>.</p> <h2>7. Administrative Assistant</h2> <p>A part-time job spent answering phones, filing documents, and doing general office work can turn into a more lucrative job as you move up the corporate ladder. Although you may primarily be doing secretarial work, you&rsquo;re also in contact with professionals at your company who may be able to help you get a head start in your chosen career, be it in publishing, advertising, law, or finance. In addition, you&rsquo;ll learn how to behave professionally, get organized, and provide stellar customer service &mdash; and you&rsquo;ll earn a pretty good paycheck in the meantime.</p> <h2>8. Brand Ambassador</h2> <p>Being a brand ambassador is a great way to get a &ldquo;marketing&rdquo; entry on your resume. Nowadays companies are hiring more college students than ever to promote brands to their peers. You&rsquo;ll give away free samples and organize events and promotions while being paid in cash, perks, and swag. If the commercialization of campus life doesn&rsquo;t bother you, you might be able to make a nice little supplemental income.</p> <h2>9. Bank Teller</h2> <p>Working at a bank is a great way for college students to get experience in the field of finance, albeit at a low level. Hours are often flexible, many bank tellers work on a part-time basis, and a degree is not required. Later on, you may also be able to advance your career within the bank.</p> <h2>10. Paid Intern</h2> <p>Never underestimate the power of an internship. I know of many college students who interned at a company in their field of study and went on to be hired full-time at that company. In competitive fields, this may be one of the best ways to <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/15-simple-networking-tricks">gain connections</a> and get your foot in the door in your profession. Unfortunately, many internships today are unpaid, but often, the learning experience is worth it.</p> <p><em>What job did you have in college, and how did it help you?</em></p> <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-great-jobs-for-college-students" class="sharethis-link" title="10 Great Jobs for College Students" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/camilla-cheung">Camilla Cheung</a> and published on <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/taxonomy/term/"> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Career and Income Career Building Education & Training Extra Income college students first jobs flexible work schedule part time jobs side jobs Tue, 25 Sep 2012 10:00:42 +0000 Camilla Cheung 954663 at http://www.wisebread.com Wise Bread's First Job Stories http://www.wisebread.com/wise-breads-first-job-stories <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/wise-breads-first-job-stories" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://www.wisebread.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock_000008035608Small.jpg" alt="Girl serving ice cream" title="Girl serving ice cream" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="166" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>From high-schoolers getting their first summer jobs to recent college graduates starting their first &quot;career&quot; positions, early summer is a big time for new jobs. We here at Wise Bread have told you about some of our <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/share-your-work-horror-stories">worst jobs</a>, but we haven't necessarily told you about our <em>first</em> ones &mdash; those scrappy, minimum-wage gigs where we made as many (if not more) errors than good moves. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/making-your-first-paycheck-work-for-you">Making Your First Paycheck Work for You</a>)</p> <p>Enjoy these first-job stories from some of our writers, in all of their awkward glory.</p> <h2>Fair Game</h2> <p><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/marla-walters">Marla Walters</a>: My first real job was sort of odd. I was hired at a fairground, and I think I was 16.</p> <p>At first they had me doing clerical work, but after a week or so I started checking in fair entries, issuing passes, and eventually I worked out in the barns with the livestock owners. There were great work ethic lessons to be learned, although at 16 I was more excited about the paychecks.</p> <p>A 4-H and FFA kid, I was in my element and pretty comfortable with everything except for the &ldquo;carnies,&rdquo; who were pretty rough. I kept my distance.</p> <p>They were long days. Judging would start as early as 8 a.m., which meant I needed to be on deck by 7 a.m., and I didn&rsquo;t usually leave until the carnival lights were glowing.</p> <p>Judging was serious business, whether rabbits, quilts, or pickles were being evaluated.</p> <p>I listened to a lot of country-western music while in the office, learned to drink black coffee, and got some autographs from minor celebrities who were doing the fair &ldquo;circuit.&rdquo; I lived on corn dogs, fresh cinnamon rolls, and boiled corn-on-the-cob with lots of butter and salt. Fair food rocks.</p> <p>My boss, Bob, was wiry, leathery, chain-smoking old cowboy. When we drove to town to the feed store, he liked me to drive so that he could tell stories and chain-smoke. I had barely known how to drive a stick, but I had to get good at it, fast. When he told me I could drive a stick like a real truck driver, I felt pretty proud of myself. When you can back up to the loading dock of a feed store, baby, you are <em>somethin</em>&rsquo;.</p> <p>I still love the Americana of a fair and fondly remember days filled with 7 a.m. sheepdog trials, petting zoos, cotton candy, and late-night stock-car races. It was a great first job.</p> <h2>Candyland</h2> <p><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/kentin-waits">Kentin Waits</a>: I entered the working world modestly at age 15 as a janitor at a local department store called Spurgeon&rsquo;s (think JCPenney&rsquo;s without as much stuff). For sweeping, mopping, emptying the trash, and organizing hangers, I was paid the handsome sum of $2.86 per hour (isn&rsquo;t it funny how we never forget the wage of our first job?).</p> <p>After distinguishing myself by classifying all the clothing hangers in the storeroom by type (a blessing to the sales clerks who did all the stocking), I was &ldquo;promoted&rdquo; to candy counter clerk. This was the old-fashioned kind of candy counter &mdash; bulk candy in huge display cases sold by the pound. I&rsquo;m sure I ate most of the profits during the slow days, but through the black magic of teenage metabolism, it never showed.</p> <p>Spurgeon&rsquo;s didn&rsquo;t last very long after Walmart came to town. But by that time, I was out of college and making my way in more professional (and much less calorically-intense) jobs.</p> <h2>Sort-of Handy Helper</h2> <p><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/julie-rains">Julie Rains</a>: My first job with a regular paycheck was as a lifeguard at a community pool. But as a child, I was an entrepreneur and found a few handy-girl jobs around the neighborhood (before I was old enough to babysit!). For example, a friend and I made a list of 10-15 odd jobs that we could handle and walked around our neighborhood introducing ourselves to people and offering these specific services.</p> <p>We were hired to rake leaves by a young woman who I am pretty sure thought we were adorable. She doted on us and even made snacks. I wanted to do a great job, so in addition to raking the leaves, we also cleared out the ivy in which the leaves were embedded. Obviously, as a child, I had not acquired a love of climbing ivy; instead, I saw it as a weed to be removed. When I told her what we did, the young woman tried to disguise her shock (and disappointment) &mdash; she was very nice and quickly paid us and sent us on our way.&nbsp;</p> <p>So, an early life lesson for me was to be clear about the job to be performed and realize that the customer may have different likes and dislikes than me.</p> <h2>(Very&nbsp;Little) Attention to Detail</h2> <p><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/andrea-karim">Andrea Karim</a>: My first job out of college was working for an educational publishing company based on Long Island. I worked as an assistant to the Vice President of Business Development (or something like that, I barely remember). My job was to book travel for consultants and my boss, handle their expense reports when they returned, and provide our accounting department with billing information. I spent a great deal of time on the phone with a travel agent.</p> <p>It quickly became obvious that I was not to be known for my attention to detail. Travel plans became confused, hotels were booked miles from the closest convention center. Incorrect billing information was given to schools in other regions of the country, resulting in angry calls to our President and CEO from principals and superintendents. My lack of interest in the tasks placed before me was obvious; while I enjoyed the ideas and artwork inherent to the publishing industry, I was certainly not the best person to handle the nitty-gritty details that come with running a publishing house. I was thrilled to leave the position after only six months, and I'm pretty sure that my boss was delighted with my departure as well. Thereafter, I never accepted another administrative position. It's simply not my forte.</p> <h2>More Customer Than Employee</h2> <p><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/janey-osterlind">Janey Osterlind</a>: My first job was as a sales associate for Footlocker at the local mall. I got the job because, like a lot of teenagers, I wanted some financial independence and I thought it would be nice to have some extra spending money. Little did I know that working for minimum wage for less than ten hours per week could hardly satisfy my shopping habit! That was my first experience with directly equating hours worked to new shirts purchased. I also learned that it was, in fact, possible to end up earning negative dollars during a shift &mdash; if you work <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/retail-therapy-the-benefits-of-shopping">retail</a>, and you get a discount on merchandise in your store, you have to have the self-discipline to avoid using up your paycheck before earning it. I did end up with a lot of nice tennis shoes, though.</p> <p>Working at Footlocker wasn&rsquo;t all bad. I initially got the job through a friend, and we passed a lot of slow hours gossiping about the boys at school, our weekend plans, and cute customers. When the store was busier, I helped customers find the best shoes for them. The experience taught me patience, the ability to juggle several things at once, and how to listen to others&rsquo; needs. Even though my day job now couldn&rsquo;t be more different from that first job as a sales associate, it still helped teach me some of the valuable skills I use today. All in all, not a bad first job!</p> <h2>Fairy Tale Princess on&nbsp;Display</h2> <p><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/meg-favreau">Meg Favreau</a>: I grew up in an area of Northern New Hampshire where one of the biggest summer employers was a small amusement park called Story Land. I worked there for four summers and loved it...well, most of it. See, soon after I was hired at the awkward age of 14, I was informed that one of my duties would be performing as Cinderella. As a budding actor, I was thrilled and honored that I'd be cast in such a role so soon after starting work.</p> <p>What I didn't realize is that there's a good reason the new employees were cast as Cinderella &mdash; the job was exhausting! Cinderella's fancy gown was a sweat trap in the muggy New England summers, and the day was filled with a constant rush of people waiting to take tours of the castle, get hugs, and take pictures. It was wonderfully rewarding to see my work translate into so many happy kids, but by the end of the day, my legs would ache, and my voice was hoarse.</p> <p>The worst incident I had as Cinderella, however, was towards the end of the summer, when a particularly large tour group was in the castle. See, all of the employees who played Cinderella shared the same costumes, and after a few months, things started to fall apart. On this day, I was wearing a hoop skirt under the gown, and part of the lowest plastic ring in the hoop had come undone and was sticking out. It wasn't very noticeable to guests, but it was enough that, as I backed into the ballroom to allow space for more visitors, I accidentally stepped on it.</p> <p>I immediately lost my balance and fell backwards. This would have been bad enough, but because I was wearing that lovely hoop skirt, not only did I fall on my butt, but the hoop skirt lifted my gown up high so everyone could get a perfect look at my pink heart-patterned underwear.</p> <p>From that day forward, I always wore shorts under the dress.</p> <p><em>Do you have any great first job stories? Share them in the comments!</em></p> <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/wise-breads-first-job-stories" class="sharethis-link" title="Wise Bread&#039;s First Job Stories" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/meg-favreau">Meg Favreau</a> and published on <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/topic/career-and-income">Career and Income articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Career and Income crappy jobs first jobs work ethic Mon, 13 Jun 2011 10:24:11 +0000 Meg Favreau 575479 at http://www.wisebread.com