All the odd jobs along the way


There’s a lot of pressure for young people today to land the perfect internship and start on the path to the future. While it can be great to test drive a career path before going head first, I also think it’s important and OK just to be a kid sometimes. I can’t recall any real internship experience I had until after college. Instead, I worked a lot of odd jobs along the way to help make some extra cash. I learned a lot along the way.

Here’s the list:

  • Babysitter

  • Lifeguard (multiple pools)

  • Summer swim coach

  • Hostess for a fancy restaurant

  • Waitress for a wing joint (I was a really bad waitress)

  • Clothing retail at Anne Taylor Loft

  • UVA fitness center (swiped people in)

  • Worked in catering at two different places (prep and server)

  • Bartender/barista a theater

  • Dressed up in a a period dress with too-small corset for a Holly Tour in Baltimore

  • Dressed up as a costumed character for bank openings and worked random events for an event company

  • Assistant wedding photographer

  • English conversation lessons (while in Paris)

  • Nanny during summer holidays in France (I felt like a prisoner)

On paper it may not be the most impressive résumé you’ve ever seen, but I learned important lessons each step of the way. I learned what I was not good at, but did it anyway knowing it wasn’t forever. I saw the behind the scenes of how we were trained and worked (retail is a fascinating experience). I learned to appreciate details and how events are put together (this was extra helpful for when I worked as a communications manager and directed video shoots). I saw how the people I worked for treated others for better or worse; I think it made me nicer and more respectful for those working in service.

Too often people may be embarrassed to have a second job. Really these jobs are what can help you get where you want to be. Many times they act as a stepping stone. There are lessons to be learned from every experience, and you never know who you may meet along the way.

And if you haven’t guessed it, yes, that’s me in the lion suit. It was for a bank opening somewhere in Virginia. We decided to have a little fun and walked to the grocery store during a break. That’s another lesson that’s key to any job: learn to have fun no matter what you’re doing. . . . You can see more from my life as a costumed character here. I definitely sweat a lot, but it made for a good story.

OK, I want to know. What are the odd jobs you’ve had along your own journey? What lessons have you learned? Share them in the comments below!

For more on the topic of jobs, listen to LinkedIn’s Hello Monday podcast with guest Elizabeth Gilbert where she talks about hobbies, jobs, careers, and vocations.

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