A young friend of mine took a new job in Florida. My son is changing careers and is starting a new position. My nephew has been promoted. And I may have mentioned that my daughter Jordan landed a new job.
These are a few of many people in my life who are changing gears in the work world. I guess one could call this the “Spring of opportunity.”
Entering and working one’s way to “the job” is akin to a scavenger, or timelier put, Easter egg hunt. I always told my children that their first job would teach them everything they didn’t want to do for a living and give them clues toward a positive vocational path. We continue to fine tune our skills with each position that follows.
In my initial foray into the workforce, I scooped ice cream, made sundaes, and ate banana splits (on break) at an ice cream shop. The first milkshake I made wound up in my hair and splattered across my nose, cheeks, and the ice cream counter. That’s what happens when one fails to lock the cup onto the mixer.
That job taught me that I could not seek ice cream parlor work as a profession. Not because I failed my first milkshake trial, but because I ate way too many banana splits. I would have never survived a career in ice cream, no matter how good it tasted.
My next stop was at the local country club where I took a lifeguard position. On my first day, an ornery 10-year-old boy decided to put me to the test.
Whistle one: he jumped into the pool not once, but twice, during a rest period. Whistle two: he sprinted across the wet pool deck, not once, but three times. Whistle three: he dunked a younger boy and held him under the water.
After whistle two, I had warned, “Strike three and you’re out.”
The boy gathered his towel and flip-flops and stomped out the gate. Instead of heading home, he stood outside the fence, behind my chair.
“You just wait till I get home,” shouted the boy. “My daddy is on the board. When I tell him what you did, you’ll get fired!”
A good father was that boy’s day dad—I kept that lifeguard job through high school. But becoming a professional lifeguard was not in my future. Not because of unruly kids, but because I could not make a living as a summer employee.
Whether one is new to the workforce or a veteran of employment, training for a new job brings a mix of excitement and trepidation.
The natural progression is often, “Yay! I got the job!” followed by “Oh, I hope I catch on fast,” and then, “I want to prove I can do this and do it well.”
I liked on-the-job training more than not. I’d rather be challenged with something new than bored doing the same old thing.
As a freelance writer, I’ve done everything from writing news and feature stories to constructing resumes, formatting rules, and summarizing economics research. Still, when new opportunities land on my desk, my heart rate quickens to a positive pace.
What I learned at the ice cream shop and the pool is that I liked working with people. Coming from a freelance writer who works from wherever her laptop travels, that sounds like a contradiction. But, thanks to the various opportunities that come my way, I meet new and interesting people all of the time. And I continue to enjoy the long-term working relationships I’ve cultivated.
To my family and friends and all of those who are headed to new jobs, may this be the grand prize of your scavenger hunt or the golden egg in your basket.
writer, blogger, columnist