Lessons I Learned From My Menial Job
Before I got my first real job, I had really low expectations. Thanks to “The Office,” a job meant a cubicle, water cooler conversation, and the occasional casual Friday. And unfortunately for me, the stereotype matched reality. I began my work-study job on campus at the beginning of the year, eager to make some extra cash. While having the extra money is great, the actual job isn’t so fun.
But that doesn’t mean it hasn’t been valuable. Here are a few lessons I’ve learned from my menial job that will help me out when I apply for my first real job:
Always look busy
If you have a boss who’s too preoccupied to notice what you’re doing at all times of the day, don’t look at it as a “get-out-of-jail-free” card. When things slow down, they will notice that your TMZ webpage is always open and that you’re texting at 85wpm. Even when you think there’s no one watching, put a little show on. There are eyes everywhere. Not to mention, the sounds of constant texting can drive a cubicle-mate crazy!
Take advantage of the freebies.
When I organize my office’s supply closet three times a week, I always notice the extra file folders, bags of paperclips and water bottles that don’t have a home. With permission, see what you can take home. We’re broke college students and we all know that every little bit helps.
Make new friends
From 9 to 5, your coworkers will be your only friends/enemies/frenemies in sight. Everyone doesn’t have a sparkling personality, so beware of the grouchy guys and girls in the office. But as my mom always says, you must give respect to get it. Organize a get together after work one day to bond — you’ll have new people to share your pain with at work. And trust me, there’s no better way to make new friends than go to a happy hour with cheap beer and great wings. While you may never hang out with your work friends on the weekend, it will make your life SO much easier if you have someone to talk to during the day.
Maintain your poker face
Yes, you’re bored out of your mind. But saving face and pasting a smile on will keep you from being pegged as “unenthusiastic.” There are many things in life that will leave us unhappy. Use all the downtime you have to practice looking like a cheerful worker…and maybe you’ll actually end up feeling like one in the end.
Skills, skills, skills
Sure, filing papers and getting coffee doesn’t equate to working in someone’s fashion closet or movie set. But there are many skills that you can take away from the most snooze-worthy jobs. Those phone calls you make to your company’s foreign associates and the parties you help throw could lead to a great human resources or clerical job after graduation. No matter what career path you take after graduation, you’re going to have to start at the bottom. Filing papers and knowing how to make lunch reservations is a universal skill. It’s pretty likely that your new job will have the word “assistant” after it, so knowing how to be an assistant, AKA knowing how to do all the mundane tasks that no one wants to do, will be invaluable on your resume.