How important are those “stair stepper” jobs? These are the type of jobs that definitely are not your ideal career opportunists, but simply the fillers between school and your big dream. They are the summer internships, holiday helping hands, varying 4 hour shift jobs where the boss never seams to remember your schedule and constantly puts you at the wrong time causing you to scurry and get someone to trade shifts with because you have school and though you have handed your boss a color coded hourly availability document still… no change. (Can you tell I am still just a little salty towards those type of bosses?)
I spent an enormous amount of my time working in the child care industry. I never wanted to be a teacher and although I love children, it so was not a passion of mine to have a career involving any type of child care. My childhood best friend wanted to be a teacher and I used to tell her all the time that teachers have a very special calling on their lives but that simply was not mine. However, as crazy as it seams, we make some of the easiest jobs to get with child care so I found myself summer after summer convincing myself that I would enjoy it. Every summer I found myself begging for it to be over.
I then found myself stuck in a place where all my work experience was in the one area that I wanted to stay away from the most. At 19 Years old I decided to blaze my own trail. It was hard to get a job where I could make money to be on my own because I had absolutely no experience. I wanted it so badly but it simple wasn’t going to happen. I decided to take a job at the YMCA and man the front desk. That was my break through job. Sure it was easy and I didn’t do a lot of office work but when I put it on my resume, suddenly other better paying positions were interested in me because I had experience (If you call eating Cheetos at the desk while everyone else worked out “experience” then I’ll take it).
Your first jobs matter. The work you do matters, your work ethic matters, and your promotions matter. Even if you are just making copies and filing. All of it matters. Every time I applied for a job I always tried to apply for a position that was 20% above where I was currently at. That didn’t always mean more pay. Sometimes it meant more responsibilities for a more diverse resume or more of a professional environment so that I never stayed in the same level. At 19 years old I would never have applied for the position I have now but I kept pushing myself harder and harder which gave me confidence. Simply put, I wouldn’t be where I am without the YMCA. It gave me the tools, the confidence, and the spot on my resume that I needed to push me forward.
Last week I ran up the TCU stadium stairs for a work out and man did it suck! But sometimes our careers can feel like those stadium steps. You look forward to where you want to be, and it seams so far away and looks painful to get to. Sometimes your mind will trick you and tell you that you don’t need to do the steps in order to get a good work out, that there must be another way, a short cut. As you look around you realize that there is no short cut, no elevator, no conveyor belt, just the stairs. You have all of these thoughts running through your head “how long is this going to take, how much pain will I be in tomorrow, is it worth it, and can I even make to the top?” I’m not saying everything will be dandy. You’ll sweat, cramp, get winded, maybe even take a breather, but you’ll get there.
Education does help. However, I know people with masters in their field of study but because they simply have no other experience besides their studies, companies won’t hire them. In many cases, when they found a job, they were hired on with the bachelor degree level employees which is still great, but they could have been even hire if they had a few jobs on their resumes.
Stair stepper jobs are getting you to your goal, no matter where you are in your career, they matter, so make them count.
Photography By Naomi Ledford Photography
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