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Your Take: Your First Job?

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Chinese Food TakeoutYou never forget your first job, right? At the age of 15, you can’t legally work in New York yet unless you jumped through all these hoops to get a work permit. It was this stupid little green card that said you would only work during certain hours of the day, the total number of hours per week couldn’t exceed some number, and was a really big pain in the butt to get.

I wanted the card because I needed one to work the cushiest job I knew about, the library. I heard librarians were making ridiculous money putting books away in a nice, air conditioned building. :) After getting the card, I soon learned that everyone else had the same bright idea and some crazy people were doing it for free! The wait-list for a summer job at the library was months.

So we went to option two and my first job ended being at a Chinese takeout restaurant. I answered phones, prepared people’s take out orders, and banked a lovely $5 an hour tax free. Turns out the stupid card was completely unnecessary if they just handed me cash at the end of the day. I think I worked there for a year or so, getting a couple raises in the process (I think I ended at like $6.50 an hour), and getting a good lesson in life. All in all, I think it was a great first job experience.

What was your first job?

(Photo: rhoran)

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58 Responses to “Your Take: Your First Job?”

  1. eric says:

    Retail–nuff said. :/

  2. txdakini says:

    I was fourteen. I worked in an auto body shop as a file clerk. I had piles and piles of paper, invoices, memos, orders, all to alphabetize and put away. It was boring, but all the guys were really nice to me. I made $1.50 an hour and thought I was rich. The guys would take me out for ice cream after lunch most days. This, of course does not include my babysitting jobs which started at age 10.

  3. lostAnnfound says:

    Besides babysitting & paper routes through jr. high and high school, my first real job (taxable) was working for some nuns, approximately 20 of them working at a catholic H.S. and living in a large house. I worked Monday – Friday three hours a day in the afternoon cooking their dinner so that they could do after school classes, coach sports, etc. I think I made something like $2.00 or $2.250 an hour.

  4. Mrs. Micah says:

    You couldn’t work at our local library until you were 16 and able to work evenings. So when I was 14, I got a job stuffing bags (think like stuffing envelopes) for conferences. It was run by a friend’s dad out of his extra-large garage. Sort-of a small warehouse.

    Except on the hot days of the summer (no a/c) it wasn’t bad. We worked spring, summer, & fall, and it was a workplace where you could talk to each other and listen to the radio/CDs if you wanted to (and could agree on one). No customer service, just get the work done.

    I wouldn’t have wanted to do it forever, but it was much better than fast food or a lot of other jobs. Once I was 16, I started at the library and just never gave that up. :) That first library job was perhaps my favorite because it was so easy and I got to handle so many books.

  5. Guy in San Antonio says:

    When I was 10, I walked along roads and picked up aluminum cans (my dad covered the other side of the road, I suppose mostly to keep an eye on me!) I made probably $50 a month. Also, I grabbed broken lawn mowers from neighbors who put them on the curb to throw them away. I would get $30 or $40 for a lawnmower that just needed a spark plug and some cleanup! I felt like an 11 year old millionaire.

    Basically, you can find your own job when the law won’t let you work legally.

  6. Michael says:

    I had my first job at age 12. I couldn’t legally work but I went to every business in town and asked for anything. After being told no by about 30 different stores I finally found a yes. A local restaurant owner had me hand out menus in the local neighborhoods and gave me $3/hr and a free meal at the end of every shift (My mom made $12,000 a year and we NEVER ate out) so I loved the food as much as the money. A few months later I went door to door and asked if people would pay me to mow their lawn with their equipment (we didn’t have a lawn). I charged $10-$15 a week and had 5 regular jobs within a year. Since then I have worked up to three jobs at a time until recently. I put myself through college and med school and now I make more in a month then I did in a year. Hard work builds character.

  7. First real legal job was at McDonald’s. Got paid $3.12 an hour. Even back then, that SUCKED! :)

    It helps keep things real for me now though.

  8. Carla says:

    My first job was working at a day care center when I was age 14-15. I made $4.25/hour and first and got a $.75 raise after my first year. I also used to make hospital scrubs for my mother’s co-workers at the hospital she works for for $25 each. This is in the early to mid ’90s.

  9. Glenn Lasher says:

    My grandfather was a vegetable farmer. At age 12 or 13 (I forget which), he lent me the use of one of his fields, and gave me some seed money (literally) and I planted a crop of pumpkins which were officially mine. I netted about $110 the first year, and about $800 the next year — enough to buy my first computer. The year after that, I took a more formal job with him at $3.80/hr (this would have been in the mid-80′s).

  10. Bucksome says:

    Interesting reading. My first job other than babysitting was working in the tobacco fields in Massachusetts at age 15.

    The employees were either young kids like me or adult migrant workers. This was very hard work and really made my appreciate my suburban life. I also understood the value of education to ensure hard physical work wasn’t in my future.

  11. Wise Golden says:

    Paperboy. My Mother, God rest her soul, made me save every penny that I made on that route. She helped me deliver on Sundays because I was really too young to do the work. It taught me to save, and it made me understand that you have to work to have money.

  12. Bryan says:

    I considered my first job at 15 to be the dream job, but I love golf, so working at the golf course was the greatest thing in the world for me. Free golf all the time plus some tips every now and then for helping golfers unload their bags.

    I even remember that they just raised the minimum wage to $5.15 before I started and I was so happy to get that. I save all that money from the summer to purchase a beautiful new set of Ping irons and driver. Greatest summer ever!

  13. Greg says:

    My first money making venture was selling toys in the 3rd grade. I ended up in the principal’s office with my parents and nearly got suspended!

    So much for capitalism and free markets! Scarred me for life!

  14. marc says:

    Interesting topic and interesting comments.

    My first job at 12 was picking strawberries and raspberries as piece work – so much for each box. Cannot recall $$.

    We moved and I continued doing the same at a different farm in 1967, I eventually worked up the ranks to become a farm hand on this 200 acre farm, working all year – all summer, after school, weekends, etc. When I was paid by the hour I got .$90 and when I left in 1972 I was getting $2.00/hr. It was hard work, but my best friend worked right beside me.

    We would start at 6am and usually did not see any of our bosses until after lunch. We worked then to 8pm and also Saturday.

    I was able to save enough money, so that in the Fall of my Senior year, I was able to buy a new car with cash and still have money in the bank.

    I learned a great deal there and have carried those experiences with me today.

  15. The Boss says:

    My first job was at KFC. I was 16. I spent the entire summer looking for a job, and no one would hire me. My brother who just quit his job at KFC got his manager to have me replace him. It was great. I received my first paycheck ever on September 11, 2001! Didn’t save a penny, spent it all dumb stuff. Well, I did get my first pair of contacts. Wish I had saved more money from back in those days. I’d be rich now

  16. Ronni says:

    My first job- other than babysitting and paper routes- was being a maid at a local motel. I cleaned the motel rooms the summer between my JR and SR years and the summer after graduation. I made about $5 per hour. And I learned that people are slobs when someone else is cleaning up after them. :) Also walked in on a few things my young eyes probably shouldn’t have seen. :) I also learned to clean a bathroom in 6 minutes! A skill that I have kept to this day!

  17. I was 16 when I had my first job where I clocked in and clocked out and collected an official paycheck. I taught soccer and tennis at the local tennis club. It was probably one of the most fun jobs I’ve ever had.

  18. At 8 or 9, my best friend and I picked strawberries and flowers and sold them in front of her house.
    At 11, I got my first babysitting job: 75 cents an hour.
    At 13, I picked tomatoes for $1.35 an hour. I felt rich!
    “Real” jobs were hard to come by because I lived in a rural area and didn’t have a car. But at 17 I got a weekend job in a bakery, working from 11 p.m. Friday to 7 a.m. Saturday, and then from 11 p.m. Saturday to 6 a.m. Sunday. Yawn.
    At 18, I got a summer job in the glass factory. Shift work, lots of overtime, little sleep.
    Since then: Housecleaner, typesetter, secretary, clerk, newspaper reporter, freelance writer, mystery shopper, handyma’am, subject of medical experiments, apartment house manager, personal finance columnist. Still doing child care off and on, but now I earn $10 to $12 an hour. Times change.

  19. Patrick says:

    I actually worked at a blockbuster at 16 :( It was OK for a while, but it sucked to only get paid under $6 an hour and we were not allowed to sit, even when the store was empty. What made it worse is that the manager did nothing but sit in the back of the store and talk on the phone. I learned that I didn’t want to have a retail position for my full-time job in life.

  20. Kim McGrigg says:

    My first job was pulling weeds at a resort. My training consisted of: find weed, pull weed. I was hoping to make my way up to flower waterer, but the mosquitoes and sunburn foiled my plans!

    Thanks for the opportunity to reminisce!

  21. Sandy says:

    My first job was at a New Orleans’ department store, Maison Blanche, slightly before the age of 16 (they never asked me to prove my age) working as a hostess in the restaurant. The place was so small that when it was busy, we put small groups together at larger tables. Some people said, “We won’t share.” OK, back to the line. I eventually worked in sales in various departments but don’t remember how much I made. I was offered a permanent job but my mother said to the woman, “She’s going to college.”

  22. ddan7 says:

    My first job was using a pressure washer to clean out a pig barn. I would come home literally covered in pig crap. I did this for a few months until I started milking cows for a different neighbor. I would then come home covered in cow crap which -believe it or not- was 100 times better! I milked cows for 6 years.

  23. My first job was a business– cutting lawns. I then diversified to cutting lawns and delivering newspapers.

  24. Erin says:

    Ok, dont laugh at me, but I didn’t actually get my first job (not counting babysitting once a month in high school) until I was in college. But hey, give me a break, I spent every summer starting my sophomore year in high school taking college classes at the local junior college.

    An older lady from church payed me $10-11/hour cash to clean her house (it was only about 6-10 hours a week) when I was a freshman. But my first real job and interview was for a job as a mentor to first generation college students when I was a junior in college. It payed $10/hour and I got to work 10-15 hours a week. Wasn’t too bad when I added it to scholarship refunds…

  25. Erin says:

    Ok, I will eventually learn to proof before I post…I just realized that i misspelled paid. Twice. Yikes.


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