School’s out, you’ve posted your #hscyalater Insta shot, and you’re gunning for the job that’ll put you at the start of your future career. But it’s hard to get your foot in the door, so you settle for an internship to up your experience. But those don’t pay well (read: at all), and you enjoy the idea of not starving, so you decide to embrace the classic student archetype and apply for a bar job where you’ll moonlight as everyone’s best friend a.k.a. The Person Who Supplies Alcohol. But all your friends have applied for that same job, and of course it’s gone to Scott and his stupid haircut.
Luckily for a lot of you, you’re in a unique position in life where you can just fuck around and not have it affect much of your livelihood, or anyone else’s. You don’t need that perfect work experience that leads directly to what you (think you) want to do for the rest of your life–every job presents you with a range of experiences that you will learn from, and will apply to any number of life situations. Simply put, any experience is good experience.
When I was 18 and eager to start earning my own money, I ended up in a commission-based door-to-door sales job. It was terrible. The money was shit, the work inconsistent and the company dodgy. I remember a day where I made a grand total of $1 for 7 hours of work, and a few others where the car wax I was spruiking sloshed and made stains on people’s windows because of the 40-degree heat. My friends told me to find a new job, and so did strangers on the street, and co-workers under their breath. But I stuck it out for a few months, and while my wallet wasn’t any better for it, I did learn a bunch of life lessons sooner than I would have without it.
Every time I had a shift I was in contact with up to 70 people a day–people I wouldn’t have otherwise had anything to do with. I walked into industrial workshops like I owned the place and asked that I speak to the person in charge, the burly workers acquiescing to my demands because it was spoken with such conviction to make a skinny 18-year-old kid sound authoritative. I had tea with elderly couples, talked sports with tradies, and flirted with middle-aged mothers–I was totally out of my element, and I learned to relish in it. I started to speak and carry myself with a confidence that only pushing through 50 rejections in a day could teach you, and this was integral to nailing future job interviews with strangers and making my presence felt in other workplaces.
Any job that you take at this point in your life will teach you these intangible life skills that you didn’t need to learn until now, shielded by the relative safety of childhood. They will also increase your worth to employers, and get you that much closer to landing a job that isn’t completely terrible. Don’t pass on that job washing dishes at the local take-away joint, because having that on your resume proves to employers that you’re hard-working and determined. Don’t pass on that retail job, because talking to customers everyday will teach you heaps of social skills that transfer to the rest of your life. Once you’ve started working, many other opportunities open for you, and all these little odd jobs become building blocks to something bigger and better every day.
A study has shown a trend of job-hopping nearly doubling in the last 20 years, and this includes changing to entirely different industries. This was found to be a positive trend for university graduates in the search for transferrable skills, so it sure as hell is fine to be doing for temporary jobs after high school. So, grab those dishes, put in work, sell those clothes and stack those shelves–and any other job, really. You’ll thank yourself later.