Your first job is a rite of passage. For many of us, it was a summer job. Unless you’re one of the lucky ones, your first job is usually something less than glamorous, like working as a camp counselor with dozens of screaming kids, flipping burgers at a local fast food joint, or babysitting for the parents down the street with 6 rambunctious kids.

Even though your first job probably isn’t what you picture doing 10 years down the road, it was a source of invaluable life experiences. In fact, some of the job skills you picked up will transferable for the rest of your career.


Here several job skills you learned at your first job and still use today:

1. working with others

Chances are you weren’t working in isolation. Most first jobs require human interaction. Whether you were a cashier ringing up customers or junior camp counselor wrangling a dozen hyperactive kids, your first job required you to work with people. You learned how to cooperate to get your job done. Even if you didn’t have face-to-face interaction with customers, you had to work with coworkers or supervisors. For better or worse you learned how to build and maintain working relationships.

2. putting on your game face

You learned how to deal with difficult people. Perhaps it was dealing with a cranky child who wasn’t feeling camp that day. Or a customer who was certain that a raised voice was the key to cashing expired coupons. Maybe it was an infuriating boss who always gave you the worst shifts. Whatever the case, you handled some less than pleasant situations. You learned to put on a smile and be pleasant for the sake of professionalism, even when the person you were interacting with wasn’t returning the courtesy. You figured out how to handle nasty situations without losing your cool. That’s an invaluable skill when it comes to having a long, successful career in just about any field.

3. the value of compromise

As a low person on the totem pole at work, you didn’t get what you wanted all the time. You were the one stuck with closing shifts on weekends when the rest of your friends were out having fun. You learned how to make the best of less than favourable situations. You also counted on coworkers to get out of sticky situations every so often. When you needed a shift switch (you just had to attend a concert, of course!) you begged your best work friend to trade with the understanding that you owed them a favour down the line. You learned the value of compromise and how it’s sometimes the best avenue to get what you want, or close to it.

4. the value of money

When you started your first job, it was the first time you got your hands on real money. Your tiny, too-small, never-enough allowance certainly didn’t count, if you received one at all. Suddenly, money seemed a little more special. It was something you earned with your own hard work. What you spent it on also came under close inspection. After all, if you had to work 6 hours to pay off those awesome sneakers, were they really that awesome? You carefully considered the cost of things. You measured the value of your work and learned the importance of money.

5. how to market yourself

To apply for your first job, you had to create a resume, even if it had little more than your high school education on it. You filled out countless applications for what seemed like a million jobs. Finally, you scored a coveted interview. You wrung your hands the night before and practiced what you’d say. Through this process, you learned how to market your skills and present yourself as a professional. You made it clear you wanted the job, even if it was only a summer job. You picked up valuable interview skills. It was a starting point for your personal branding, which you’ll draw upon for the rest of your career.

What skills did your first job teach you? Are there skills you learned that you feel are still relevant? We’d like to hear your thoughts.

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