What did you learn at your first job?
In the last few weeks I have seen various discussions online regarding the number of candidates applying for graduate roles, who do not have any previous work experience. This got me thinking about the variety of different jobs that I had throughout my time at School/University and the important lessons that I learnt from them.
I quickly learnt at my first supermarket job that if you managed to score a gig working permanent Sunday mornings that you got double pay and so you could work fewer hours for more money. The pea factory taught me that if you were good at computers then you could get off of the inspection line and into a more comfortable office and my job selling vacuum cleaners that the world is made up of an eclectic mix of people and not all of them are particularly pleasant!
These life skills helped considerably when I transferred into full time employment and were much more valuable than large parts of my degree. Developing communication skills in real time situations is a vital part of our development.
A number of commentators were quick to dismiss these people as lazy and entitled. In a world of record levels of student debt, it seems strange that more people are not working to support themselves, however maybe the cost of education is now so high that there is more pressure to achieve top marks which come at a cost of wider life experiences.
When we look at this from a HR/Recruitment position it raises an interesting question. Does academic excellence trump wider experience or do candidates need to ensure a balance to support their future applications?
For me, I’d always go with experience as I think it’s interesting to see how people react to real life situations and so work experience can help candidates to articulate this.
Would be interesting to hear from those across different sectors as to their view and any important learnings from their first role?