What I Learned From The Jobs I Held Growing Up

I started working part-time jobs early in life. I was a freelancer or gig economy worker before these terms were invented.

I didn’t work out of financial concern. My family was not poor. I wanted to pull my own weight and gain experience in the world.

Last week my daughter participated in the Spring Undergraduate Research Symposium at the University of Florida. The event was held at the O’Connell Center in Gainesville, home to the basketball games, among other things. I have not been in that facility since 1994-95 when I studied for my Masters’s degree at UF.

O’Connell Center made me think of the odd jobs I had when I was studying there:

  • As security, I walked the hallways you see in the picture above to clear them during the games.
  • I unboxed/uncoiled cables before the events.
  • I coiled/boxed cables after the events.
  • I cleaned up after the events. You would never have nachos again at a basketball game if you also did this.
  • I guarded parking lots, only letting folks with special passes through.

All for a whopping $5/hour. 🪙

This continued until I found a Research Assistant job at the University in 1995. Then I started writing case studies for Operations Research and coding MATHLAB. 💾

Other jobs I had before:

  • I was a runner (driver) for stadium concerts, moving things and people to and from the facility.
  • I tutored Math and German.
  • I drove forklifts.
  • I worked at a car factory feeding parts to the production line robots.

What did I learn doing these jobs?

  • Sales: Jobs don’t come to you. I got all these jobs myself. No family connections were involved. 
  • Customer service: Quality is what customer wants and needs. I was always a good student, but a grade of 3.75 out of 5 was sufficient for me. When I was tutoring a student, I told the student the same thing. Her parents fired me.
  • Money management: You need to check the hours to get paid accurately. You need to save before you can spend it.
  • Satisfaction and pride in making money: That was a sweet feeling.

This post was originally made to LinkedIn on April 9th, 2023.

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