First jobs often teach us life lessons we carry with us. In our second round of first work experiences, readers share how they got their starts—from being a cellar hand to telemarketing.
When many people started their first jobs, they saved up money and bought something fun and special. The things they purchased may have been remnants of the era—like clothing that celebrated tennis player Andre Agassi—or an album that would help shape their musical interests. Read on to see a few tales of first jobs, as well as some of the wares that hard-earned paycheck bought.
Corporate Liaison, Naval Submarine League
I was a nanny at Naval Base Chapel-Pearl Harbor. Had to get an early work permit in Hawaii since I was younger than 15. I worked Saturdays and Sundays and occasional weeknight. My earnings paid for new tennis shoes—Andre Agassi Nikes—and a new Nike Andre Agassi tennis pullover jacket.
Retired (Society for Classical Studies)
I was faculty secretary at the Harvard Business School. With a Christmas bonus, I went to the Harvard Coop and bought a number of record albums. One of them, “Benny Goodman–The King Of Swing-Complete 1937-38 Jazz Concert No. 2,” expanded my musical horizons from rock and roll to early jazz.
Director of Membership and Events, Ohio Pharmacists Association
I worked the customer service desk at J.C. Penney. The position gave a lot of variety by working on credit card issues, retrieving catalog orders for customers, and gift wrapping. I think the internet has probably now made the position obsolete. I remember buying a pair of overalls with my first check.
Sales Coordinator, Design-Build Institute of America
After I graduated from college, I worked as a sales coordinator at a historic hotel in Washington, DC. My role was to support the sales managers with bookings. That included checking to ensure that hotel rooms were cleaned for the sales managers to show them to potential clients, routing incoming calls to the appropriate sales manager based on region, assigning guest rooms based on preference (e.g., king bed, two queen beds, etc.), checking IDs for various events, directing people to the appropriate ballrooms, and helping to draft contracts. The hotel was gorgeous. However, I don’t remember what I purchased with the money I earned.
Meeting Manager, National Defense Industrial Association
My first job was a cellar hand at a local winery. But at the end of the summer, I wrote a check for a seven-year-old Honda Civic. It was hard to not spend anything, but it was great to not be in debt and own a car. Definitely worth it!
Gwen Biasi, CAE
Membership marketing, American Medical Association
I was a telemarketer selling Chicago Sun-Times subscriptions. I was given a very “Chicago Tribune loyal market” to call. Because the two pubs tend to be opposites in politics, the experience taught me how to be thick-skinned. My wages contributed to savings for a Mustang convertible.