Thursday, February 6, 2014

My First Job: long hot days flipping burgers!

This year I celebrate 14 years in the human resources profession, which is an accomplishment as I fell in to it completely by accident or was it fate? As this anniversary fast approaches, I have been thinking about how I got here as well as what and who has helped me along the way. One factor that helped me was my first job: long hot days flipping burgers during a college summer vacation.

At the time, I hated working in the kitchen and front of house of a fast food restaurant in my home town in England during a college summer vacation. I wanted nothing more than to enjoy those long summer days in the sunshine with friends instead of flipping burgers, cleaning tables and waiting on the restaurants’ guests. I only saw one upside: that summer job allowed me to save money to spend my third year of college in Spain and France where I was able to visit parts of each country as well as study, which I probably would not have been able to do otherwise.

Little did I know that there was more than one upside! Two years’ later, I applied for my first “real” job in the UK Department of Defense that was setting up a new human resources team in the city where I was  studying. I had never thought of working in HR so was surprised when they offered me a position. Why? Simply because that first summer job enabled me to gain new skills: team work, dealing with difficult situations, communication, working under pressure, providing great customer service…all key for a career in human resources.

So, what do I take away from my first professional experience 16 years’ later that I want to share with you? Every professional experience no matter how good or bad provides us with valuable skills and experiences that we can use in later life. Spend some time thinking about the summer, part-time or voluntary work that you have done so far…what skills, experiences or attributes will you be able to “sell” to a potential employer upon graduation?

Chris Roberts, Director of Human Resources
WeiserMazars LLP 

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