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The Important Role Your First Job Plays

Posted by Julie O'Malley on February 25, 2015

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Every year the Oscars generate plenty of buzz and news coverage. From predicting winners to red carpet fashion there’s a story to tell.  One feature that Food_Trainingcaught my attention was on the jobs that celebrities had before they made it big.  Do you know which Best Actor Nominee (Steve Carell, Michael Keaton, Bradley Cooper, Eddie Redmayne or Benedict Cumberbatch) worked as a New York City doorman?  Or which one started out as a cab and ice cream truck driver? 

No matter how basic, a first job can play an important role in future success. Look at where these CEOs gained their early work experience and how it influenced their careers:

Doug McMillon; Wal-Mart: Warehouse Worker at Walmart for $6 an hour. He never left and climbed his way to the top.  McMillon claims the skills gained early on have remained important every step of the way. “Teamwork wins and hard work pays off. If you don't take care of the basics like showing up on time and striving to exceed the expectations of your leadership, your career doesn't move.”

Marissa Mayer; YAHOO: Checkout Clerk in the County Market in Wausau, WI “Many of the cashiers had years of experience and were very committed to their jobs, so I saw firsthand the importance of a great work ethic. I learned that speed mattered -- they measured our items per minute rate during each shift and the only way to be eligible to work an Express Lane was to do 40 items per minute consistently over an 8-hour shift. I also learned a lot about family economics, how people make trade-offs, and how people make decisions on something fundamental, like how to eat.”

Jeff Bezos; Amazon: Front Line Worker at McDonalds.  According to Bezos, "You can learn responsibility in any job, if you take it seriously.”Collage_for_OMalleys_First_Job_Blog_2-25-15

Goodwill recognizes the value of a first job and helps those with barriers to employment find one.  It may not forecast where you will end up, but it can lay the foundation for future success.  It can help you learn the ropes, understand day to day business practices, how to make a meaningful impact, and ways to improve your performance and continue to grow. It can help you determine what you’re good at and where your passion lies. First jobs open the door to greater opportunity. 

And about those stars rising from humble beginnings: Bradley Cooper – New York City doorman. Michael Keaton – cab and ice cream truck driver.

Written by Julie O'Malley

Julie joined Goodwill Industries of Southeastern Wisconsin, Inc. as Manager of Sales and Business Development in 2013. She brings more than 15 years of management experience in the healthcare and consumer packaged goods industries. She received her MBA from the Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University and her undergraduate degree from the University of Wisconsin.
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