My First Seven Jobs

Sunday, August 14, 2016

I’ve noticed a few people on social media sharing their “First Seven Jobs,” and as I’m getting ready to hit the monumental big “40” this month, I started thinking about my own first forays into employment. Food, fashion, movies, and writing have always been a big part of my life, as supported by these first few jobs!

1. Belk Teen Board. This regional department store selected a certain number of teenagers each year from the county schools to make up this board. We had to fill out applications and go through interviews like any other job. I did this during my junior and senior years of high school and it was a blast. We modeled in fashion shows for the store, set up merchandising displays, handed out perfume samples in the cosmetic departments, and one Christmas, I worked in complimentary gift wrap having no prior experience in gift wrapping. By myself.

2. Movie Theater Employee. After accepting a job in a local manufacturing plant that produced parachutes with my best friend and lasting exactly one day, we stumbled upon a job at our local movie theater. I think we were hired by phone interviews alone, which must have been how desperate they were for help. I started out in the concession stand and worked my way up to the box office, where I would help count all the concession stand inventory each night as part of my job and reconcile the accounts. Again, another great job for a teenager, especially since I got to see most of the movies free. (A character in one of my YA manuscripts has a similar job.)

3. Express Store Associate. Once I started college the minimum wage salary wasn’t enough to live on anymore, and the theater couldn’t give me a raise. I headed across the street to the mall once again and got a job in Express, where I promptly ran up a store credit card so I could effectively sell their clothes. FYI, I’m pretty sure much of the first few seasons of the TV show “Friends” got their clothes from Express. I sometimes recognize specific styles when I watch old reruns.

4. Restaurant Hostess.  I worked at Express for about a year, and then they gradually began cutting my shifts back until I could barely afford to eat. I took a job as a host at a local restaurant, which was one of the toughest jobs I ever had. Trying to keep the wait staff and impatient, hungry diners happy was a definite challenge. I eventually worked my way up to server, and then to a headwaiter, which meant I helped settle the books at the end of my shift. (How did I keep ending up in accounting-type positions when I never considered myself good at math?)

5. College Newspaper Staff. After working as a reporter for two years at my college for credit, I took job as the features editor of the newspaper and eventually news editor. I got paid $40-$50 an issue for these jobs and we produced the paper each week. I worked these editing jobs in addition to my wait staff jobs.

6. Blockbuster Video. Remember those? After getting burned out at my restaurant job, I took a break and thought it would be fun to work at a video store since I loved movies so much. Wrong. The corporate office had a lot of rules and procedures that I found tedious. I quit after getting scolded because I didn’t answer the phone the right way one night when the district manager happened to call.

7. Clerk at a Chocolate Shop. I mostly weighed chocolate bark, sold bottled water, sodas, boxed up truffles, and gained at least 10 pounds that summer. I also began my lifelong love affair with dark chocolate raspberry truffles.

I have to admit this has been a pretty fun exercise. It’s also been interesting to see how technology has changed since I had several of these jobs (such as the way we printed the different sections of the newspaper and pasted them together and the video store). Having trouble coming up with an interesting job for a character or subplot? Go back and list your first jobs and I guarantee you’ll dig up something interesting to write about.

You know where I’m going with this. I want to hear about your first seven jobs now! Please share in the comments below.

What I looked like when I first began working.
Renee Roberson is an award-winning freelance writer and editor who finds it interesting that so many of these jobs involved working with the public when she considers herself an extreme introvert. Go figure. Learn more at


Sioux Roslawski said...

Renee--Most of them were waitressing, although I had an ill-fated factory job in a pharmaceutical plant.

I think I'll write a post about MY first seven jobs. Thanks for the inspiration.

Robyn Chausse said...

My first job was at age 13; my parents owned an ice cream store/deli. I was the "day manager" in charge of ordering, scheduling, and of hosting parties. From there I went on to:
Retail Sales via JCPenney's
Dental Assistant, Chairside. (This job lasted about three month...then I assisted in a lower jaw bone surgery and fainted at the sight of all the blood.)
Chiropractic Assist. & Insurance Billing
Admin. Assist. Interior Design
Veterinary Technician (apparently it's only the sight of human blood that causes the fainting)
Copywriter for Pet Products Company

My siblings chose corporate jobs right out of the gate and, 40 years later, are still with those same companies. I dare say I've had the richer life :)

Margo Dill said...

Can I remember my first 7 jobs?

1. Babysitting
2. Webster University Saturday morning administrative assistant for the graduate program (because my mom worked there)
3. Spanky's Frozen Custard custard maker
4. Shop n Save cashier
5. Mail sorter/front desk worker at college
6. Catering worker (for college catering)
7. Fourth grade teacher

Angela Mackintosh said...

Fun post, Renee! I'm having a little trouble remembering the order of my first jobs, but I think it's:

1. Daycare babysitter for infants to two-year-olds at a church (I think I was 14 or 15)
2. Display Artist for Tower Records
3. "Bra Specialist" (yes, it said so on my name tag! But it paid a dollar more an hour, so I didn't mind.) for Broadway department stores
4. Sales manager and graphic artist at Soccer Pro
5. Sales manager at Aaardvarks Vintage Clothing
6. Manager at A Touch of Romance
7. Sales consultant at Martin Lawrence Art Galleries

And that puts me to my mid-20s. The career jobs started shortly after. Tower Records is no longer--in fact, they just made a documentary about it--but I still keep in touch with people that I worked with there. And Broadway turned into Macy's. Thanks for the exercise!

Marcia Peterson said...

Loved Tower records, Angela!

Let's see, my list is:
1. Babysitting
2. Swensens ice cream/restaurant (ice cream made on premises, yummy)
3. Hostess at restaurant
4. Cashier at stereo/electronic store (side story: a couple of years after leaving I received an out of the blue payment from a class action lawsuit I didn't know I was a part of. The company had made taking lie detector tests part of the hiring and promotion processes, which I guess isn't legal).
5. UCSB library (in a special area where professors put special materials, like extra course reading and past exams for students to check out, a pretty cool spot)
6. Credit manager at finance company (first career job after college economics degree)
7. Insurance underwriter, later claims specialist

Powered by Blogger.
Back to Top