All careers begin with first job

So, how important is your first job? Young people ask me this question often.
The answer? “The most important job you will ever have—just like all the rest.”
Your first job, however, sets the stage for performance habits and future opportunities. It gives you the keys you need to secure your second, third, and fourth jobs in the future as you begin building your career.
When I owned my restaurant in Kenora, I had a young man hanging around outside daily. For three months this young man was there every day, hoping I would offer him a job.
He would pick up garbage and open the door for people. He was very pleasant and really wanted to work for me.
I finally gave in and offered him a job in the kitchen as a dishwasher.
For the next year he was one of the best employees I had. He was never late, never called in sick, always did more than what was expected of him, worked well with all other staff members, and showed a lot of leadership potential.
When you think about it, he had everything that makes a great employee.
After his first year of employment, he began coming in late for work, asking to leave early, and his overall work performance began to suffer. What I wasn’t aware of is he wanted to work in the field that he was really interested in making a career out of.
Without my knowledge, he was applying for the jobs to work in forestry.
What I also wasn’t aware of is that he was using me, his very first employer, as a reference. Not surprisingly, he was granted an interview and was told to bring his references with him.
When he came to me and asked for a letter of reference, I first hesitated before agreeing to write it for him. The next day he came in to pick the reference letter up.
Sitting in my office, I gave him the letter. Halfway through the letter, the young man looked at me in astonishment and said, “I can’t use this letter.”
I replied to him, “It’s the truth and you want me to tell the truth, don’t you?”
You see, in the letter I opened by explaining who the young man was and how he came to work for me. I went on to explain that over the first year of his employment he was one of my best employees.
He was never late, never called in sick, always did more than what was expected of him, worked well with all other staff members, dressed professionally, and showed a lot of leadership potential.
Then I went on to explain that after the first year, his interest was gone. He was ready for a change and his work reflected his interest in leaving. He began coming in late for work, asking to leave early, and his overall work performance began to decline.
I explained to the young man how important it is for him not to take your work for granted and the importance of productivity. Your work performance should not change from the time you begin employment to the time you end it.
Nothing should change. How you act today will determine how you will act tomorrow.
It is important for you to build your career from your very first job; your past performance will predict future performance. The young man looked at me, apologized, and told me he just learned a very important lesson and will never make the same mistake again.
As he turned to leave my office, I stopped him and gave him a second letter I had prepared and had in my desk. That letter described the young man that I hired and came to define as one of my best employees.
The letter concluded by stating I would hire the individual again given the opportunity.
I then said to him, “I am giving you the second letter only because I know you learned a valuable lesson from this experience and that you will not make the same mistake again.”
The young man thanked me for giving him a second chance and for the valuable lesson. He then went on and landed his new job.
Today I continue to use this story to let people know that yes, your first job is important and it sets the stage for performance habits and future opportunities.
But every job you will ever have helps you build your experiences, knowledge, and portfolio. Don’t take advantage of any job you have.
Remember that you are not doing your employer a favour by hiring you; they are doing you a favour by employing you.

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