Do You Remember Your First Jobs?

Last month, the hashtag #firstsevenjobs was trending on Twitter. It got people to share their unlikely beginnings and reminisce about where their career paths led them. It picked up steam when celebrities such as Lin-Manuel Miranda of “Hamilton” and talk-show host Stephen Colbert started sharing their first seven jobs.

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For my blog post this week, I put a spin on this hashtag and asked the employees of Bravo Group what their first jobs were and how their jobs influenced their work ethic and where they are today. If you are reading this blog post as someone who works at Bravo Group, you might find surprising things about your co-workers.

Alexandra Blessing, Fall PR Intern

I spent three years working at the front desk of Millersville University’s library. I helped friendly people and not-so-friendly people. I learned to put on a happy face and act professionally on days I didn’t necessarily want to. Customer service is a great way to learn to communicate professionally. I also learned the value of organization and attention to detail.

Giovanna Ortiz, Fall Writing Intern

I started competitively swimming when I was 7, and it became my refuge. As a college student, it helped me get away from the stress of class and everyday life. I taught lessons to babies as young as 6 months and aerobics classes to people as old as 90. My first job taught me to always remember to smile, even if you are sleepily opening the pool for eager lap swimmers at 4:45 a.m. Just keep swimming.

Drew Lawrence, Copywriter

In high school I worked for my dad, who owns a home construction company. He had three crews for different phases of the construction process — one for the foundation and basement, one for framing the structure of the home and one for the interior of the home. Over multiple summers, I worked hands-on with each crew and learned about every phase of the process. With every job I’ve held since then, I’ve tried to carry that work ethic and learn as much as I possibly can along the way, be it from a menial task or high-level strategizing. It’s the same at Bravo Group. I am a copywriter, but I contribute to creative concepts, graphic design mock-ups and social media strategy.

Sean Connolly, Senior Director

Starting at 9 years old, I spent my summers and winter breaks working at my family’s gas station and then a construction company. In high school and college, I was a laborer on a crew and moved up to an equipment operator and truck driver. It was a great experience but not what I wanted to do the rest of my life. Whenever I complain about my office being too hot or too cold — which is quite often — I remember my days sweating on a ditch crew or freezing in an old dump truck. This helps me appreciate the opportunities I have had in my career.

Rose Talbot, Writer

My first job was the editorial assistant for Messiah College’s alumni magazine. I was a freshman and had just declared a journalism major, so this was my first experience writing articles, conducting interviews and pitching story ideas. I ended up working there for the next three years until I graduated. I learned many practical writing skills, became much more comfortable interacting with strangers, understood the value of detail and creative thinking, and learned to love the pressure of deadlines. These are skills I’m using on an everyday basis at Bravo Group.

Alyson Bartolomei, Social Media Community Manager

Believe it or not, my first job was a Dairy Queen team member while I was in high school. I learned how to think quickly on my feet and interact with a variety of customers, all while maintaining a positive and professional attitude. Perfecting the Dairy Queen swirl is not easy! I came to realize how much patience and discipline are needed to replicate the creation of a perfect product. I’d like to think that this foundation has served me well in all of my other roles.

Chris Conard Shultz, Director of Content Strategy

My first “official” job was doing piece work (sorting, cutting, sheathing, wrapping and packaging) for an industrial cable company at 15 years old. I was paid by the piece, which taught me the economic value of being quick and efficient because money was the motivator. The job taught me discipline to show up and do a good job, and what it means to be responsible and reliable.

Jeanette Krebs, Managing Editor

My first job was in a pharmaceutical factory that made hypodermic needles in a small town near my home. I wore a hairnet, booties and a throw-away jumpsuit each day after punching in on a time clock. The workers in the factory were mostly women who started there right after high school. They taught me a lot about hard work, how to chat through a monotonous day and how awesome it is to get paid overtime.

Stefanie Bierzonski, Media News Analyst

My first real job was the summer before my senior year of high school. I worked as an assistant at a local salon. I was 16, made minimum wage and worked my tail off from the start of my shift to the end. I assisted with everything in the salon, from scheduling appointments and calculating availability (before fancy software!) to shampooing hair and helping with perms and highlights. I also worked behind the scenes doing laundry, supply organization and taking what seemed like tons of trash out to the dumpster. I would sweep and mop the entire salon after we closed. I was on my feet most of the day and would come home exhausted, smelling like either fancy shampoo or awful perm chemicals. Despite being a lowly “shampoo girl” to some customers and stylists, I was determined to be the best shampoo girl I could be and I took pride in my work. This influenced my work ethic in that it taught me to do my best and treat those around me well. It also instilled humility and the value of a hard-earned paycheck within me. To this day, I do my best to treat everyone, from custodians to CEOs, with the same level of respect and appreciation.

Noelle Lorine, Director of Product Growth and Development

My first job was throwing birthday parties for kids at The Little Gym. I started there when I was 14, mostly because it was the only place in my area willing to hire employees that young. I worked most Saturdays and Sundays, and my responsibilities included everything from blowing up balloons and coordinating with parents to planning activities for the kids and teaching them gymnastics. There was absolutely nothing glamorous about the job, and at the end of my shifts I usually left with birthday cake stains on my clothes and calluses on my hands from tying balloons. However, parents spent a lot of money on these parties and wanted the best for their kids. I learned that despite how I might be feeling on the inside (which was usually exhausted from the previous birthday party), it was up to me to deliver an amazing experience for the paying customer. I’ve tried to translate this learning into my work at Bravo Group and with our clients. We pride ourselves on delivering high-quality service, and it’s important that each client feels valued, heard and appreciated. However, I am grateful we don’t give out balloons for each campaign win.

Alizah Thornton, Writer

I held several jobs during high school and college, and each taught me valuable life lessons that I apply to my personal and professional life. In high school, most of my jobs were in the service industry. I worked as an elementary/middle school tutor, fast food employee, Starbucks barista and IMAX movie theater employee. In these positions, I learned the importance of customer service and how to speak to and serve customers who did not always treat the service workers with respect. Because of these positions, I learned not to define people by the jobs they have and to work with anyone, regardless of his or her position, to accomplish a goal. In college, my jobs focused on using or learning a skill and applying it to the position. For example, I worked as a newspaper editor, where I learned how to use Adobe InDesign to lay out pages, an office assistant, where I learned organizational skills, and a student assistant in a graphic design/print shop, where I honed my attention-to-detail skills by reviewing my university’s marketing materials for content and design flaws.

Alexandra Blessing | Fall PR Bravo Group Intern, Harrisburg

Featured Image: Shutterstock

Embedded Images: Twitter

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