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Your Take: Your First Summer Job

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Periphonics LogoNow that summer has unofficially started (officially it won’t be for another few weeks), I thought it would be fun if everyone shared their first summer job and what they learned from it.

My first summer job was as an intern at Periphonics, an interactive voice response company that was acquired by Nortel Networks shortly after I left. It was the summer of 1999 and I had just come home from a year at Carnegie Mellon, surviving the second “weeding out” semester, and thought I could put my awesome collection of computer science skills to work. If memory serves me, I was developing a web interface for a playback tool they were developing.

The basic idea was that Periphonics had, in addition to the automated menu systems (IVR), call center tools that recorded incoming calls. If you call up a company and they say “this call may be monitored,” well that’s what Periphonics did. They recorded it and played it back along with a video screen capture of the CSR who took the call. Supervisors could review the entire call and see what the representative was doing at the time.

Today, I’m sure the tools are all streamlined but back then we were syncing up the audio and video on a single webpage and it was cutting edge. I enjoyed it. I can’t remember the specifics of the technology but I do remember thinking that it was fun trying to solve this problem of syncing things up, using various plugins that weren’t meant for each each other.

I learned that corporate life had a lot of red tape, lots of forms, and lots of approvals. I learned that a boss isn’t necessarily smarter than his or her subordinates, just better at other skills; no one has the right answer and life is about figuring stuff out on your own.

What was your first summer job?

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41 Responses to “Your Take: Your First Summer Job”

  1. tbork84 says:

    I was a camp counselor during the summer months and also a life guard there. Great experience, great way to spend the summer outside, and great people. A very typical suburban child first job.

  2. Marc says:

    My first job that earned money from someone other than my parents was picking strawberries, raspberries and blackberries on a 200 acre farm at age 13. Cannot recall the piece rate figures, but I made good money and was outside all the time with my friends.

    Very rapidly my work was recognized by the owners and in a year was working basically as a Farm Hand rear round, Many hours in Summer, with work after school, weekends and holidays. Anything you can think can be done on a Farm I did – Drive Trucks to Cannery, Drive various Tractors doing all kinds of things, move Irrigation Pipe, build things, tear things down, dig holes, apply fertilizer, spread manure, and on and on.

    I earned enough [at end was being paid $2.00/hr and gas was selling for $.249 per gallon.], that in the Fall of my Senior High year I was able to buy a brand new Car for Cash and still have money in the bank.

    I learned a great work ethic and since my employers were progressive – they gave us basic instructions on tasks to do and let us then learn. I did this for 7 years

    From that experience I learned all matter of skills that has saved me countless dollars.

    I later married and found a warehouse job in a Door Factory that paid $3.35/hr with mandatory overtime of 16 hours per week, until I graduated from College. Later I ended up starting up my own Agricultural Business.

    • otipoby says:

      Hey, I picked blackberries as well in the summer. All I remember was my legs and hands torn up from the thorns and my hands were purple from the juice for a long time. Hard work, but it was fun. In the fall, I also picked up walnuts to sell. Amazing how happy I was with $40 in my pocket that I earned.

  3. My first job was when I was 16 and I was an intern at the Washington Redskins. I never thought before I began working there that they had office jobs right in the stadium.

    I didn’t get paid much ($6/hr), but the experience I had at the stadium was well worth it. I got to walk around the stadium when I was doing anything important. We got to visit the club sections and even the owners suite at the stadium. I was also fortunate enough to meet some of the Redskins Cheerleaders :)

    Overall, it was a great first summer job and

  4. eric says:

    Wow Jim, your first job sounds so much more cooler than mine. For me, I had just gotten my license in high school and took a retail job at a now bankrupt chain. Nothing special lol.

  5. Mike says:

    My first summer job was to help start my older brothers catering business (at 14), at which I started washing dishes, then cooking, and later sales and marketing. This was 16 years ago of which I worked almost 10 years with him while I was studying (part-time and in summer holidays, and now his business is servicing companies and private households across Europe.
    I also still worked at a big furniture retailers distribution center and worked for the mail service during summers.
    So, I always had cash and could travel the world.
    It was worth more than the wages I earned. Experience and life skills I gained are invaluable.

  6. Glenn Lasher says:

    I grew up in a farming family, so my first summer job was working the farm. Until about age 12 or so, I generally pitched only when something big was going down (planting time, end-of-season harvest, irrigation if we needed it). At 12, my grandfather lent me a piece of land and my father bought me some seeds, and I planted, cared for, harvested, and sold pumpkins. They repeated that for the next two years, and at age 15, I was hired on formally as an employee of the farm, which was what I did for the next three summers.

    My advice and what I learned: never work for family unless you have a very good, tight relationship with them. This arrangement worked well when I was working for my grandfather, with whom I did have such a relationship, but when my father took on a management position at the farm, what I already knew about my relationship to him was thrown into painful clarity.

  7. My first summer job while in high school was at a small weekly, county newspaper where I filled in for vacationing employees. So I learned early that I liked variety and since then have had numerous careers. Hard drinking and hard partying, those newspaper people were the most fun bunch I ever worked with. I can’t recall how much I made an hour, but it was enough to pay for half my tuition my first year at Parsons School of Design.

  8. JimmyDaGeek says:

    First real summer job? Working for the Social Security Administration in ’72. I was a Manual Assembly Clerk for $1.80 an hour. One of SSA’s mission is to provide disability payments. The people making disability determinations had a set of manuals that were about 3 feet wide. The base manual was published every 3 or 4 years. Meanwhile, transmittals were issued to update the manuals with corrections and new policies. It was my job to create new sets of manuals for new hires. It took 3 people to do this work. My supervisor just sat around looking important. Lessons learned? What a rip the government is. The most inefficient organization invented by man.


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