My turn! I don’t often get to take off my AptoZen Marketing Copywriter hat and write about my own experiences, so naturally my temptation in writing about my #first7jobs is to type up all the weird and random things that happened to me while I worked these jobs, and re-emerge at the end, 25,000 words later, with a lengthy conclusion and a self-promoting plug for my writing career.
But I’m not willing to subject you to that, so I’ve boiled my first seven jobs down to my title, what I did and what I learned at each one. Hope you enjoy. And if you don’t enjoy, hope you comment angrily.
What I did: I drove to various houses that subscribed to my employer’s lawn and garden care services. My main tasks were: aerating lawns, setting and maintaining mole traps, and placing poisoned bait for voles, gophers and squirrels.
What I learned: Pickup trucks are longer than regular cars. I learned this because I smashed the tail light on two separate occasions while attempting to turn the truck around. Nearly got fired because of it. Instead I just got chewed out. A lot.
What I did: No, I wasn’t the “make oil paintings of fruit bowls” kind of painter — I was the “paint a building a different color” kind.
What I learned: Turn in your timecards on time, wear a mask when you’re spraypainting, and eggshell white is not the same as semi-gloss white.
3. Leasing office manager
What I did: I was incredibly unqualified for this job, and I only did it for a week. My main tasks were to answer the phone, collect rent checks, show vacant apartments and keep the apartment complex looking presentable.
What I learned: 1. When you’re showing an apartment and a potential tenant asks whether the neighborhood is safe, don’t reply, “Well, sort of.” 2. Don’t be afraid to improvise. Trash pickers can also be used to catch snakes (the apartment complex had a bit of a snake infestation).
4. General maintenance guy at apartment complex
What I did: I didn’t have a real title. Functionally I was half-gofer for some contractors who were doing remodeling work, and half-janitor.
What I learned: Texturing a wall is basically the most fun thing ever.
What I did: For some reason this job is always difficult to explain succinctly to people, but suffice it to say I worked for my college and picked up and dropped off students around Santa Barbara. Like Lyft/Uber for students at the college, but free (I was paid hourly).
What I learned: Don’t overcommit yourself. You can’t drive from Goleta to Carpinteria and back twice in an hour. No matter how many times you try.
6. Op/Ed Writer
What I did: I wrote opinion columns for my college’s campus newspaper. Here’s one.
What I learned: Weirdly, editors appreciate it when you meet deadlines.
What I did: Want to feel like you’ve gone far in life? Go work the janitorial night shift at your old high school. Really, though, this job wasn’t that bad. There was a lot of spraying and scrubbing of bathrooms and locker rooms; basically, it was just a bunch of mindless work, and mindless work is actually kind of nice sometimes.
What I learned: People love to judge you by your current occupation, but you can’t let that get to you.
As far as what I learned overall from these jobs: I guess I’m living proof (as most people working in creative fields are) that you don’t need to have the right background or a whole bunch of connections to make it as a creative professional. You don’t even necessarily need a resume that makes sense.
You do need to be willing to work hard, whether you’re scrubbing floors to make ends meet or sitting in a comfy office chair writing a blog post. (I am currently doing the latter.)