Ice Breaker – First Job

March 8, 2013 — 36 Comments

Each week on The Stretched Blog, we ask an ice breaker question.  The questions are designed to help us get to know each other here in The Stretched Community.  I’ll provide my answer to the question here in the post, and then you can leave your response in the comments.  While you’re in the comments section, see how others answered the ice breaker question.

From time to time, I tap into my family and friends for Ice Breaker ideas.  This week’s Ice Breaker came at the suggestion of my wife, Leanne.  She is in the middle of investigating new job opportunities.

Question:  What was your first job?

My Answer:  I shoveled a lot of snow and cut a lot of grass over my early adolescent years.  This led to a job taking care of 11 acres for an elderly couple in our church.  When I started this job, they paid me $3.15 an hour which was minimum wage at the time.  I earned every single penny of that pay.  After this, I land surveyed for an older gentlemen at my church.  This was a great learning experience.  I think the first job in which I earned an official payroll check was my job at Samuel Miller Christian Retirement Center.  This job involved serving lunch to residents and washing the dishes afterwards.  I don’t remember what I was paid, but I remember talking to the residents as I helped them with their lunch.

I’ve had many other jobs over the years including:  house painter, cafeteria supervisor, babysitter, recreation room host, telemarketer, medical billing technical support staff, high school maintenance summer intern, facilities management intern, project engineer, and project manager.

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Today, I’m an operations manager for a building automation company.  I like my job; in fact, I love my job most of the time.  I like the fact that I get to help people succeed.  I like that I can help customers save energy and money.  And I like the team I get to work with every day.

There you have it – my answer.  Now, it’s your turn.  Answer this week’s ice breaker question by leaving a comment.  I look forward to reading your response!  (Feel free to share links.)

Jon Stolpe

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Christ-follower, husband, dad, engineer, manager, runner, blogger, sax player, group life fan, freelance writer, and the list goes on...
  • http://www.leahadams.org/ Leah Adams

    My first job was teaching piano to 8 beginner students when I was 15. My first job where I received a payroll check was when I was 16. I worked as a clerk at the local pharmacy. I think I made about $2.10 per hour which was minimum wage back in the day.

    • http://jonstolpe.com/ Jon Stolpe

      My son could probably be a piano teacher. $2.10/hr! I wonder what the minimum wage is now? Was your pharmacy job the inspiration behind your career choice?

  • http://www.jmlalonde.com Joe Lalonde

    I was a paperboy delivering the news to part of my city. Unlike the game though, I wasn’t able to sling the papers from my bike and into their paper boxes. Now that would have been epic.

    • http://jonstolpe.com/ Jon Stolpe

      I forgot about that job. I was a substitute paperboy for a few guys in my neighborhood.

  • http://www.mattmcwilliams.com/ Matt McWilliams

    I worked for my dad as a golf instructor. He fired me.

    Thus launched my career in internet marketing that has lasted to this day.I had plenty of savings thankfully and learned a ton about marketing working for him, but I sucked at customer service.

    I wrote about it here: Customer Service Lessons for a Young Punk – http://www.mattmcwilliams.com/customer-service-lessons-for-a-young-punk/

    Painful lessons that I am glad I learned then.

    • http://jonstolpe.com/ Jon Stolpe

      I learned a lot of great lessons from my early jobs. Most importantly, I learned the value of a hard days work.

  • http://www.tnealtarver.wordpress.com TNeal

    Not counting mowing lawns, my first every-day job was delivering the local newspaper (like Joe). My brother had two routes and I had one. We’d do all 3 with me driving and him tossing. I didn’t mind getting up early to deliver paper, but I dreaded collecting the monthly payments. Most of my customers paid with the little envelope inserted at the end of the month deliveries, but the one who never did was the one whose big German shepherd terrified me every time I went by their house.

    • http://jonstolpe.com/ Jon Stolpe

      As I mentioned to Joe below, I was a substitute paperboy in my neighborhood when the regular guys were on vacation.

  • http://twitter.com/cupojoegirl Eileen Knowles

    I was the “drive thru queen” at a fast food restaurant called Carl’s Jr when I was 16. It was fun.

    • http://jonstolpe.com/ Jon Stolpe

      I never worked in the fast food world. But now you have me thinking about getting a Shamrock shake and my once a year visit to McDonalds.

  • http://www.jeffrandleman.com Jeff Randleman

    My first job was as a scorekeep at the softball field in our city. 4 games a night, 5 nights a week, at $2.10 a game. Not bad for a 14-15 year old…. Except that my girlfriend had to drive me there (she worked in the concession stand…)

    • http://jonstolpe.com/ Jon Stolpe

      That does sound like a fun job. Did you get any benefits from working there and knowing the concession “girl”?

  • http://byrdmouse.com Jonathan

    My first paying job other than yard work was as a busboy for an Air Force mess hall. Fun note is that just next week we will have a final walk through on the project to demolish the building. Obviously I am in a different line of work for a different employer now.

    • http://jonstolpe.com/ Jon Stolpe

      Are they replacing the building? If so, are you also working on the new building. Maybe you need a building automation system :) !

      • http://byrdmouse.com Jonathan

        They’ve been trying to demolish the building since before I worked there in 87 so any plan has been reworked a time or two. Also the Air Force put a freeze on military construction last year so it’d be awhile before they do anything anyway.
        Do you automate the electrical and mechanical stuff or something more than the normal stuff?

        • http://jonstolpe.com/ Jon Stolpe

          We automate HVAC equipment, lighting systems, laboratory systems, electrical systems, etc. We also provide fire alarm systems, security systems, and integration to all kinds of equipment for monitoring.

  • http://deuceology.wordpress.com Larry Carter

    I helped my grandfather deliver hospital beds for a pharmacy. I mowed yards, hauled hay and cut tobacco. I worked in a grocery store, a detail shop and a sawmill. I worked in a bank data center and a computer store. Then a bank. A mortgage company. UPS, newspaper delivery and a running store. A mortgage company and the retail company for a manufactured housing company.

    • http://jonstolpe.com/ Jon Stolpe

      Cut tobacco. What was that like?

      • http://deuceology.wordpress.com Larry Carter

        It’s hot and sticky. Wind just doesn’t get through a tobacco patch. Then you have to haul it and hang it in the top of a hot barn. Fun stuff.

        • http://jonstolpe.com/ Jon Stolpe

          Great stuff. It’s amazing the things you learn about here.

  • David

    My first real paycheck job was as a dishwasher at a small restaurant. One of my few memories is about the head cook, maybe the only cook, she was a lady from Africa and she used to bring me ginger beer (made from real ginger root, not alcoholic) that she brewed herself from her own family recipe she brought with her from Africa. It really was good. My second job was as a busboy/captain at what today might be considered a 4-star restaurant (at least 3-1/2 stars anyway). I did used to love the tips! I also spent one summer at a furnace manufacturing plant, probably my worst job ever, and then I loaded trailers – by hand, whole trailers, 1 box at a time – for UPS for a while. I could bore you with more but I’ll spare y’all …

    • http://jonstolpe.com/ Jon Stolpe

      David, you’re not boring me. I love to hear about other people’s experiences. The ginger beer sounds delicious. It’s amazing that things we remember about the past. What was the best tip you ever got in your busboy/captain job?

      • David

        I don’t remember the best “tip” because they always came through the waiter we worked for. The most I ever came home with was around 25 or 30 dollars. But for a teenager all those years ago, and 5 or 6 hours of work, that was a haul!. There was a waiter named Bob who was the guy all of us wanted to work with because he was hands down the most generous to his busboys. Then there was Leo, he was definitely the cheapest. Leo however, was a champion cigarette smoker, we’d go to break, he’d light up a smoke, never take it out of his mouth, finish it in 2 minutes and the entire ash would be intact all the way down to the filter. I’m not promoting smoking here, but it was kind of amazing… :-)

        • http://jonstolpe.com/ Jon Stolpe

          Great stories, David. I never had this kind of a job before, so it’s interesting to hear how “tips” were dispersed.

  • http://www.facebook.com/dstolpe David Paul Stolpe

    I was at my job before you posted today. My first gig was building environmental controls panels for a guy at our church. My first pay rolled job was as a sales associate at Radio Shack. Over the years I have milked cows, logged timber stands, raised live stock, installed car stereos, lifeguarded, repaired camp equipment, camp counseled, been a missionary, worked Ebay, grown peanuts, taught sustainable agriculture techniques, sold artwork that I made, taught children, administrate a school and who knows what else for money.

    • http://jonstolpe.com/ Jon Stolpe

      What has been your favorite job so far?

      • http://www.facebook.com/dstolpe David Paul Stolpe

        I am doing it now.

        • http://jonstolpe.com/ Jon Stolpe

          That’s great to know. I bet you can see God preparing you for this position as you look back on your previous experiences.

          • http://www.facebook.com/dstolpe David Paul Stolpe

            Absolutely, in ways that seem hard to comprehend if you can’t seethe big picture.

  • Lulu

    My first real job (after babysitting everyone’s children and pets) was at the age of 14 at a concession at a popular lake. It was run by the Kinsmen Club (a service organization). It was hot inside the building – with the grill and all. I had to take all the orders, inform the grill person, put together the hot dog orders, fill all the pop orders, ice-cream bars, chocolate bars and even penny candy – and – wait for it – add everything up in my head!!! Oh my. No calculators, no tills, just a wooden drawer with slots for the money. I was constantly terrified that I would give the wrong change – and admit almost crying when people would add or change their orders. It was a crazy busy summer job – that I would never want to do again. I tell you – I would have given almost anything for one of those electronic tills that add everything up and tell you the amount of change. (Ok – I know I’m dating myself – but even if the electronics exisited – they were beyond the reach of the service organization that was trying to make money for helping out others.)

    • http://jonstolpe.com/ Jon Stolpe

      I remember feeling a lot of pressure to get the land surveying correct. If I didn’t hold the rod or the plumb-bob correctly, I would hear it from my boss.

  • http://thomasmarkzuniga.com/ TMZ

    My first job was working my dad’s plastics factory. Would clean gunky machines and reorganize massive storage spaces. It was actually pretty fun since my dad was the main boss of the place. Though I could’ve done without the potential long-term ear damage from all the machines’ noise.

    • http://jonstolpe.com/ Jon Stolpe

      Very interesting. My long-term ear damage is probably partially associated to playing the music too loud in my first car (74 Chevy Nova).

  • http://www.joshuarivers.net/ Joshua Rivers

    My first job was at a Mexican restaurant. I started as a busboy/dishwasher. I moved onto cooking. Then to serving tables.

    • http://jonstolpe.com/ Jon Stolpe

      I love Mexican food. What’s your best story from this job?

      • http://www.joshuarivers.net/ Joshua Rivers

        Not sure what stories I should or could share. Not everything was legal (I was working more hours than I was supposed to and using machines I was too young to use, etc). I did, however, learn several things to help my work ethic. I was able to learn how to work with people (I was a very shy, introverted person), to compete with others to become better, to do a good job cleaning for sanitation sake, etc.