The Value of Your First Job

it is not always pretty

My First “Job” — Watering Plants

I was stationed at the front of the nursery in the 115 degree heat. I watered plants from 730 am until 12 noon. I carried a big hose and wore a sombrero-like hat. I did not really speak to anyone. And my pay was minimal.

Sounds to me like a pretty ugly job. This is the type of job that no parent would ever wish upon their own kid. Or is it? Is their value in having a crappy job like this mine?


Ryan Lawler recently shared on twitter his collection of crappy jobs. This catalogue stems from his youth — recapping the unfortunate days of his work.

But I am here to argue that even the “crappiest jobs” possess value. Value far beyond the week-to-week paycheck that, in the moment, you come to expect. This sort of experience is once-in-a-life-time, and I highly recommend it.

Retrospectively, it is easy to see the value of the grunt work, the hustle. And so, I’d love to share my 3 takeaways from holding an ugly job.

  1. Timeliness — there is something different about that first time you have to show up on site. A different feeling that you get. It is much different from school, because you have to be there — but it does not quite yet feel like work. The first step into the workplace is different. But once you are there, you learn all about continuing to take that step, every day.

These ugly jobs teach you to be consistent and show up on time. These two skills are transferable across industries, horizontally and vertically.

And I promise you this, there are people flipping burgers who are more timely and aware of consistency than top-level associates at big firms.

These types of skills are “occupation-blind” and are best learned in a “crappy-like” setting.

2. You Against The World Feeling — A lot of these jobs are prone to raising feelings of isolation and aloneness. In this setting, it is, seemingly, you against the world. You are looking for all the external motivators you can find to be going to that job every morning even when there are no really good incentives.

That, though, is when you must look inside yourself. And find a special spirit to get you through to the next day.

It takes repeated bad experiences to unlock your internal self-awareness. The trigger that releases an internal state of motivation. Again, this trait is something all professionals need equipped — so might as well try and learn it early.

3. Humility — There is nothing in this world more humbling than putting yourself at the bottom of the labor market.

You can learn so much about other people and yourself when you take out factors that you thought people thought about you. Working, starting from the bottom, is a humbling experience.


What was your first job and what did you learn from it ? Let’s get the conversation going !

Comment/Share where you worked and what you learned!

I want to hear from: Ryan Hoover, Danielle Morrill & Micah Baldwin


I write every single day — tweet me @itsjordangonen