I’ve had my fair share of jobs. I started working as a dishwasher at a small cafe when I was 14. I liked the job. It wasn’t hard, I worked with mostly nice people, I got LOTS to eat, and owner paid me in cash every day. Since then, I have always had at least a summer job or sometimes two.
I’ve also worked at Subway, yes, I was a sandwich artist. I worked at a small engine shop where I did lots of odds and ends including build a large fence around the property. I was a lifeguard for a while. I was an employee of a ammonia and urea fertilizer producer. I worked in the library in college. I was a youth director, a teacher, an air conditioner salesman, a coach, and youth pastor.
Each job taught me things about work and about myself. They also taught me things about people as well. One lesson I will never forget is that Foot Lbs, and Inch Lbs are very different… believe me, very different. Another important lesson is that sometimes people won’t believe you even though you are telling the truth. (that was a weird night at Subway)
I do believe people should pursue whatever career makes them happiest. But, I’m also convinced that everyone should experience certain types of jobs. These types of jobs give a person perspective. Perspective has a funny way of helping us show empathy when we don’t get our way. So, here are the four types of jobs everyone should have at least once in their life.
Everyone should do customer service at least once in their life. Preferably during a busy time, but any type of customer service will do. Customer service is a real character builder. When you call the (Phone, Cable, Manufacturing, Airline, etc…) customer service line you are usually not a great mood. Things have gone wrong, you can’t fix them yourself and you now have to call a person for help. Then you call a person who represents this institution you currently hate with a deep seething hate. Now this person, who didn’t make your shoddy device, program your software with the bug you are experiencing, cancel your flight, cook your food poorly, or sabotage your cell phone is having to bear the brunt of your frustration. Customer service reps have to walk the fine line between pleasing the customer and maintaining the rules of the company that pays them. So no, you can’t have a free year’s worth of programming because you had to wait a day for a technician to come to your house so you could watch Oxygen Network… Customer services teaches people self-control. It hard not to yell at someone who just insulted your mother because you can’t get their betamax player to play 1080p images on their new 60″ flatscreen. You also learn that some people are nice and that others just need to feel listened to, even if you can’t help them. As an extra bonus you learn a whole new vocabulary of curse words and exciting ways to use them.
Working With The Public
This is a very broad category, but it saved me from titling this “35 Jobs Everyone Should Experience.” I’m not sure what it is about the public that frustrates us so much. But ask any postal worker and you will understand that working with the public can be very difficult. Working with the public teaches that people are generally dumb. I’m not saying they most people have a low IQ or are unable to form complete sentences. Most people are simply busy, lazy, preoccupied, or lack understanding in whatever your field is. Most of us have experienced this when you walk into a store and ask about two similar products. Then, have to pretend you know what an Arbot Data Receptacle is and how it using different indexing protocols than the other item. Not fun. Working with the public teaches you to put the cookies on the bottom shelf, preferably with lid off, while loudly announcing where the cookies are and how to get them.
Whether it is long-distance, magazines, cars, or air conditioners sales teaches a person about life. I’m not talking about selling girl-scout cookies, those things are like crack, except legal, and they don’t make you skinny. Sales teaches you about rejection. You will hear lots of no’s but yet you will continue to live. In a world where everyone gets a trophy for participation sales is the ultimate reality check. If people don’t like what you are selling, no matter how great you think it is, they will reject your offer. Sales also teaches you how to read people better. Important things, like when that guy said he was going to kill you if didn’t stop trying to get him to buy your product really did give it his best shot when you kept on… you know, learning how to read people’s subtly. Whatever you sale, it will teach you about people and life.
I appreciate my current non-manual labor job. Pastoring can be stressful and emotionally taxing but it is not physically hard. I appreciate that fact even more because I had some terrible manual labor jobs. Everyone who is physically able should have work in the elements doing a labor-intensive job. Character is forged in the summer heat and hardened by the winter chill while doing physically tough labor. You have time to think when you are doing mindless activities like hauling shingles up a ladder. Though most of your thoughts are centered on how to get a job that doesn’t involve shingles or ladders or the act of hauling. Having experience working in a physically taxing job makes you appreciate people who are still doing those jobs. I am thankful for stucco workers, roofers, builders, road workers, and all of the people who do the work I don’t want to do.
There you have it, 4 types of jobs you should do to be a better person. Now, get back to work!