Since I'm a young'un with a work ethic (is seems), I haven't had the, uh, privilege to have that many bits of work in my short life. This is either because a) I'm a good worker and my employer likes me or b) I lack the ambition to find anything better... that seems more likely.
The first job I had was a in a quaint little family owned brothel in Sweden..
The first real not-doing-odd-jobs-for-family job was, as many youths of that age, slinging this abhorrent slag they call 'fast food'. This is funny because if you'd see it before we disguised it, it would never pass as 'food'; and with a crew of 16 year-olds making it, it sure couldn't be called 'fast'. A better name would be 'moderately paced semi-edible consumable product'. But I digress...
I worked there for about 3 months during the beginning parts of my senior year in high school. After taxes, I was bringing in a whopping 3 dollars an hour which meant that after a hard day of tossing dead cow around I almost had earned enough money to buy a CD.
After enduring 3 months of deranged managers, irate customers and painful grease burns, the franchise was shut down and the building were sold to 'Burger King' and then to 'Carl's Jr.'. The last day I worked there, I put a golf ball in the radar range (no, really, it wasn't a microwave, it was an honest-to-Bob Radar Range brand food cooker].
After liberation from High School, I chilled for a few months after, until the fact that I had absolutely no money began to concern me. I hunted, albeit not very hard, and eventually out of desperation a engaged myself as a CSR for The Company.
Being a phone rep wasn't all that bad... okay, yes it was. I, myself, hate talking on telephones -- I'm sure there is a phobia that goes along with it. T'was my job to wait for a call (didn't have to wait long) and take down orders the good people of the US of A would tell me. Talking to them wasn't the problem, it was the mind numbing dullness of it. It was the stupid people I had to deal with. It was the drunken managers (really, I'm not kidding). It was the unsettling sense of loathing I incurred every time I swiped my ID badge through the card-reader at the front door, feeling like small bit of my soul was being sucked into that little slot, never to be felt again.
However, I learned several valuable "Life Lessons" there, I learned how to interact with people and how to, if the need arose, manipulate them. It wasn't easy, but I know now it was, in some small way, worth it. That sort of a job is the kind that truly allows you to observe the North-American animal in its natural habitat: Consumerism. Some people in this world have lives that are so emotionally bankrupt that they have nothing to to but to call of a Catalog store at 12:30 AM and order a versatile set of Pillow Shams to go with their Window Treatments. I never get (too) depressed anymore, thanks to those experiences. Oh, sure, I get sad sometimes, but I'm able to pull myself out of there PDQ once I think about the sheer number of people who would call me put and order womens underwear while they jerked-off.
The soul-crushingness of catalog sales soon got to me and, after 6 months, I bit the bullet and faxed my (meager) resume to the number listed on an anonymous want-ad. They wanted a tech guy. I was a guy, and I knew tech. It was a perfect match. But I never dreamed how perfect.
A week after I faxed in my resume, I received a call from my future boss informing me that I was hired, and I could start doing Tech Support for an Amusement Park. I went into my old customer service job, told my old manager he could 'shove this shit job of his drunken ass and squeal like a pig', picked up my last pay packet and never laid eyes on the interior of that place again. That day ranks up there in my 'top 10 best days ever' -- #6 at least.
The next gig, going tech support, fixing and installing computers and later some elementary programming was that longest position I had ever held in anything. For 18 months I built, fixed, coded, installed and generally defined myself as the Jimmi Hendrix of Tech. It was the first paid position where my seeming endless supply of arcane knowledge became useful and I'd like to think made an lasting mark on the face of that Park. I'd tell you more, but that would require its own node. Suffice it to say I can't believe I spent nearly two years there doing an endless variety of things as wasn't hired to do.
Sadly, though, it began wear on me. There was little excitement, and even less of a chance for advancement... but perhaps the worst part was I was 25 years younger than the next youthful person in the IT Department. That, probably was the worst. I was young and they couldn't deal with it in the same way that they were 'old' and I couldn't deal with that. I had never thought the age gap in a job mattered until that job. That was a valuable lesson, and one I've kept with me. After a while, my job performance began to slip, probably from boredom, and we agreed I should leave. I was allowed to leave with my dignity (read: resignation, not fired) and, again, I chilled. I nursed my wounds for a few weeks and decided it was time to re-invent myself.
You hear people talk about 'reinventing' or 'finding' themselves and it sounds quite trite now, but I urge you to not knock it until you've tried it. I had reached a point in my life where I needed to change the way I was --no who I was, but how I was. I started my own (profit-less, still existing though) company and began to run a few web sites under it's name, taught myself several new programming languages and generally allowed my soul to percolate.
The money crunch hit me again a few months after I quit the last job, and I got a very short term job doing contract programming work. It would have been cool, but I realized that, after I had given them about 80 hours of work, they didn't have the funds to actually pay me. I was bitter, yes, and so I bailed and got back to finding a 'Joe job'.
It seems to be a recurring theme in my life that each job I secure is better than the previous. If this keeps going, in twenty years I'll be getting paid and insane amount to push a big red button once every hour (a la George Jetson).
This time, they actually came to me and offered me a position with an official title and everything -- including Health Insurance, 15 days of paid vacation a year, stock options and a title: "Junior Developer". I'd never been given an official title and, while I considered it sill, I couldn't help but like it. It's like Cherry Cheesecake; You know it's going to kill you, but you like it anyway.
Getting paid for something you like doing anyway is amazing. Working for a company where the CEO is only a few years older than you is even better. Being an Internet Company (** dramatic Chord **), most people here are very young. The people here actually listen to the same music as I, see the same movies and are generally the kind of people I hung around with in High School, though they are much, much less Goth. Whether that's good or bad if anyones guess.
So, technically, I've secured 5 *real* paid positions in my short life. I know I'm not an authority, but I'll try to entreat a few words of wisdom that I've picked up over the years:
- You Are not Irreplaceable - I know it's hard to accept, but, in the words of Tyler Durden, "you are not a beautiful or unique snowflake". If you piss people off or fail to to your job without reason, you will be replaced. Play Nice.
- You are better than you think - You've lived with yourself all of your life and as such you probably don't think you're that amazing. Even though you think you're bad at everything, you're not. If you get paid for something, you're obviously good at it. Deal with it.
- Being an Ass gets you nowhere - Granted, there are times when the world is getting on your tits, you're allowed to be a dick. But not always. You are not given carte blanche to be a jerk all the time with no reason. Being an Asshole != Being cool. It might have worked in Junior High, but in the grown up, adult world, we don't care.
- Never underestimate Karma - "What goes around comes around" was never so true as in the world of business. There is an unseen continuum that will bring back whatever you out into it. You don't have to be 'chums' or 'pals', but simply saying kind (truthful) things will impact you more than you know. You can never have too many friends.