What I Wish I Had Known When I Started My First Job

In the summer of 2006, I was able to score my first job working in retail at the mall. I was so excited to be hired as a part-time salesperson at one of my favorite clothing stores. But if I could go back in time, there are a few things I would advise my former self to do differently.

Make the most out of the opportunity

At 16 I was just happy to have a job at the mall. I wasn’t thinking about how my retail job could add to my skill set. I didn’t really care how my manager could be a future reference. I definitely got the job done when I went to work and even exceeded sales goals, but I still could have made more of my opportunity. I could have observed my manager more and soaked up how she motivated our sales team. Another thing that I would have done is reflect on everything that I was learning and kept a record of it. This would have been extremely helpful when I was drafting my first resume my senior year of high school.

Learn how to take constructive criticism

When I started my job it was also hard for me to take constructive criticism. One day I reorganized our jeans closet and thought I did a great job. When my manager inspected it she pointed out ways to make it more efficient. I remember feeling a little dejected when she gave me feedback on the closet. Looking back, my 16-year-old self was really sensitive to any kind of feedback on my work. If I could have a do-over, I wouldn’t have taken it personally and would have welcomed my manager’s comments as a way to be better

Save some of your paycheck

When I received my first paycheck I remember blowing it all on clothes I didn’t need and Taco Bell. While I think it was a good idea to treat myself, I shouldn’t have gone overboard. When I moved out of my parents’ house for college I spent the first few months regretting all of the money I spent on unnecessary things in high school. Now I have a target amount that I save from each paycheck and immediately put it into my savings account. It keeps me from making impulse purchases, and it gives me peace of mind that I have money saved up if something was to happen.

Manage my time wisely

I landed my first job at the beginning of summer, so I didn’t have a lot of school work to worry about. Even though I wasn’t in school I played softball on a competitive travel team and had to read two books for an AP English class by the start of the school year in August. I spent the last weekend before the first day of school trying to finish a 300-page book. What I learned from that summer is that I should have focused priorities and broke up large projects into smaller tasks.