Remember your first job? Whether you were cleaning bathroom floors or serving up fries at your local fast food joint, its likely that your first job played an important role in shaping your work ethic and influencing your overall career journey.
Similar to our recent blog “How I Hire”, this blog will dive into the new feature series by LinkedIn Today entitled “My First Job” which takes a look at the career grassroots of some of the top influencers in the business world. Over 90 influencers have participated in this discussion by posting stories about their very first money-making enterprise and how it impacted who they are as a professional. As Francesca, Senior Editor at LinkedIn, put it: “These compelling, funny, humiliating and heartening tales show the breadth of ways successful people can start working, and offer insight into the earliest experiences of some of the working world’s top minds.” Here are some of the articles that have received the most attention online:
My first job: Fired and rehired on day one
Steve Blank, Lecturer at UCSF, had quite the interesting experience with his first job in Silicon Valley. After accepting the job opportunity, he quit his job, packed up everything he owned, and moved across the country to California… only to find out that he was hired without authorization and the job no longer existed. So what did he do? He persisted and, in that same day, he managed to get himself hired for a completely different position. He continued to “show up” for different opportunities that arose, always putting himself out there and accepting challenges. It was this determined spirit which he developed in this first role that set the precedent for the professional he is today. Read the full article here.
My first job: Breeding budgies (the business, and birds, took off)
Richard Branson, Founder at Virgin Group, started his own small business at the age of 11 – breeding budgies. Being unable to sell them as quickly as they were multiplying, his mother set all of the birds free. Next he tried getting into the Christmas tree business. Turns out rabbits love to eat the tiny ones… It wasn’t until he started his next venture, Student Magazine, that he saw success. Eventually this became the Virgin Group – a venture with over 100 companies and 60,000 employees in over 50 countries. Looks like all that persistence paid off. Read the full article here.
My first job: From pizza delivery boy to CEO
Paul Metselaar, CEO of Ovation Travel Group, started off working as a pizza delivery boy in his mid-teens. He quickly discovered that, the faster he delivered, the more tips he received. He then began taking orders himself to speed up the process – doing everything he could to keep those tips coming in steadily. Since then, that small pizza shop has become a well-known and established restaurant in town. Paul’s journey from pizza boy to CEO can be summarized in three rules: 1) Don’t just do what you’re told – instead, step up to the plate and take initiative. 2) Dress the part, and 3) Become vested in your workplace – by seeing the larger picture of how your job affects the bottom line, you can motivate yourself to achieve greatness. Read the full article here.
My first job: What unloading beer taught me about leadership
John Donahoe, CEO and President at eBay, claims that his summer job unloading beer at a distribution company gave him extremely valuable insights about what it means to be a leader. The first was the importance of getting along with many different types of people. He learned quickly that their diversity, approaches to their job, and different ways they interacted were things to be appreciated and learned from, rather than trying to conform them. He also learned the value of trust – in taking responsibility and communicating your belief in others. While the job title wasn’t the most glamorous, John’s first job helped to shape him into the leader and visionary he is today. Read the full article here.
My first job: Everyone should learn to mop a floor
Dennis Berman, Business Editor of the Wall Street Journal, says that there is one thing that every 15 year old should learn… how to mop a floor. Why? His thought is that, “once you mop a floor long enough, you develop a reflexive respect for all the work underfoot and the people who do it.” Quite the valuable lesson to learn at a young age – and one that could deeply impact how you view work and organizational structure moving forward in your career. Read the full article here.
The first work experiences of these top influencers and visionaries hint at a much larger picture – the idea that every work experience contributes something in the shaping of who we are as business professionals.
As an HR professional in particular, it is important to recognize what these different experiences can bring to the table when it comes to making a hiring decision or dealing with employees within your company. These stories say a lot about work ethic, how it is developed, and what kind of values you want to be looking for when bringing someone on board.
What was your first job experience like? Share in the comments section below!
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