What my First Jobs Taught Me

By Alex Hargreaves

I am 24, and during my short amount of years, I’ve had a few different jobs. From walking my neighbour’s dogs for an hourly rate of $2 and a bag of lollies, to scooping rice into plastic containers for my local Indian Restaurant, I truly believe there is something to be learnt at every new job you try.  Often, as students, it is easy to get caught up in the notion of your ‘dream job’ and to discredit any part time jobs you have before you get there.  It’s important to stop and smell the roses on the way.  If you have a part time job to make ends meet, take a moment to reflect on what you have learnt in your role and how your job has helped you to develop professionally.  Even the most horrible of jobs can teach you things about yourself.  Embrace them!

My first job (aside from the dog walking gig) was at Eagle Boys pizza shop.  I was shy and awkward and found taking orders to be terrifying. I had many shameful moments in that role.  From falsely recording orders as pick up when they were delivery, to being unable to carry a tower of empty pizza boxes across the shop and clumsily dropping them everywhere, to forgetting to add ‘cheeseless’ to the side notes of a  vegan ladies pizza order.  The job really taught me to stop being so scared of what customers think of you.  Yes, sometimes you might make mistakes and customers will get mad, but it is not the end of the world.  If you apologise, offer a discount and learn from the mistake, most people forgive and forget.  Not to mention, the less preoccupied you are with making mistakes, the less mistakes you will make.


My second job was also in hospitality.  The Indian restaurant down my street offered me a job on the spot when I was 16.  They made a delicious Rogan Josh and I couldn’t think of anything better than being able to take home the food for free.  The owners were kind at first and made me feel very welcomed, but it wasn’t long until things took a different turn.  I had my first pay put into my bank and noticed that I was only getting paid $10/ hour.  I asked if this was correct, and they said that it was, but assured me it was just a ‘trial’ rate.


I worked odd shifts at the restaurant until after I turned 18. I questioned the owners a few times about my pay but I never received a straight answer.  I was still getting paid $10 an hour, which if you hadn’t already guessed, is significantly under award wage.  The job taught me to always ensure you are being paid legal award rates and do not stand for anything less.  I was working hard during my shifts, was always punctual and had good feedback from customers. I was not being paid fairly and felt undervalued as a worker. As much as I love Indian food, naan and curry do not constitute as a pay rate. If you fear you are being underpaid, Fair Work Australia is a fantastic resource that you can use to check the legal award pay rate for your position.

A year later, I thought it might be time to try my hand at retail.  With Christmas on the way, I needed money badly as I was on a poor student budget.  I noticed that one of my favourite stationary shops were seeking Christmas Casuals.  I did not hesitate to put in my resume.  When I got a call to say that I had an interview, I was literally bouncing up and down with excitement.  I did practice interviews with my parents and memorised every product in their Christmas catalogue.  I didn’t get the job after the first interview round, but when one of the other girls who was short listed dropped out, I was offered a job.  I was ecstatic!


My first few shifts were daunting to say the least. Christmas is a busy time and things move very fast.  My manager told me that I could ask her questions anytime I felt overwhelmed.  There were four other Christmas casuals, and it didn’t take me long to figure out that only one of us would still work there by the end of the season.  The competition was fierce. I found it difficult to keep up with all of the new products coming in, the store inventory’s and discounted products, and could tell that my sales pitch didn’t come across as smooth as some of my other contenders.  Right before the busy period, I was laid off.  My manager said that it was because I was asking too many questions.


My Christmas Casual job taught me that retail jobs (especially during the festive season) can be insane at times and you need to prepare to walk into a storm before every shift. It’s a rough gig. Not only are you bombarded with hoards of impatient customers, you are also competing with all of the other Christmas Casuals in the store to keep your job after Christmas. If you think you have what it takes to work in retail during the Christmas holidays, check out Careerboard or Seek Christmas Casual, as new Christmas holiday jobs are added daily. I also believe that new staff should always have the opportunity to ask lots of questions.  I now have a great graduate job, and I have never stopped asking lots of questions!

The first few jobs of my career taught me the importance of being reliable,  to go above and beyond for customers, to accept that my skills and abilities will not be suited to every job, but to try them anyway, and to be constantly looking for ways to do things faster and more efficiently.

What did your first job teach you?

To get some tips on applying for jobs, come along to our Careers and Employment Orienation Seminars.

Some of these seminars include:

  • Finding a Part Time Job 

Nathan campus: Tuesday, 23/10/18, 10:00AM, N16 -0.08

Gold Coast campus: Monday 22/10/18, 11:00AM,  G42 -1.04

  • Mystery Career Development Session (ask any careers related questions you may have) 

Nathan campus: Monday, 22/10/18, 11:00AM, N76 -1.01

  • Employability Drop in Sessions (quick chat with a Career Development Consultant) 

Gold Coast campus: Wednesday, 24/10/18, 10:30AM, G40 -4.12

Author: griffithuniversitycareersservice

Welcome to Griffith Careers Service Blog! Here you will find informative and inspiring tips and articles related to part-time, casual and full time graduate employment.

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