The First Job We Should All Have

By Tracy MacDonald
Oct 2018

There are many twists and turns that a career path takes. Each new responsibility, each new team, each new challenge leads to new skills, new relationships, and fresh opportunities. These experiences, successes, and failures shape who we become professionally and is based on our own unique experiences.

What if everyone had to spend a year in a particular job? And what if that job was the kind of job that didn’t pay a guaranteed salary, and compensation was based solely on your success? What would you learn? How would you survive? And more importantly, how would the skills you learned shape the future of your career?

It may seem radical, but there is value in learning to survive and thrive, early in a professional career. And as challenging as some of those skills may seem, we do not doubt that they pay dividends in the long run: time management, strategy development, problem-solving, and especially overcoming fears. We all have parts of our jobs that we are “afraid” of; these are the things we don’t like to do or don’t feel confident doing. One of the most difficult things to do, for many people, is to pick up the phone, call a stranger, and ask a question. Think of how easy it has become to find just about anything we need from a quick Google search. From there, we can start a live chat or send an email, get what we need and never have to deal with a human. On the flip side of that, when we receive an email from an unknown source it’s very easy to ignore it, hit the delete button, or unsubscribe from a mailing list; all without speaking to a human.

Which is why we think it’s so important for just about everyone to have the type of job where you have to speak with other humans, no matter how scary or intimidating, to be successful. Developing this skill, learning to realize when you’re working diligently to avoid doing just that, and then forcing yourself to do it is something that no amount of professional classroom training can accomplish. It’s entirely situational and can be both incredibly frustrating and immensely rewarding.

It’s scary to pick up the phone and call a stranger. What will you say? What will they say? What if they hang up on you? What if there is a question you don’t have answers to? All of these doubts lead to procrastination, and this can last for hours or days. Eventually, you have to embrace the challenge, put your mindset in the right place and do it or you don’t eat. Then, you get on a roll, get busy, and those scary phone calls turn into work; the perfect excuse not to have to make calls. But the work gets completed, and without more calls, there is no more work. Time to face that fear again, but maybe this time you’re a little more confident. You already know what you’re capable of and have had some success. This doesn’t make the task any more enjoyable; it just makes it easier to procrastinate a little less because there are positive returns on the other end. So, when it’s time to end up in a job better suited to our comfort level, it’s a little less scary to do something that’s uncomfortable.

While the theory of everyone having this kind of job at some point in their career may sound a little socialistic, the benefits could be tremendous. Those who find this type of job exciting and energizing may build a career from it. Those who are throwing confetti when it’s done may not choose this type of work for a career path, but the hard-earned soft skills will support their professional career for a lifetime. It’s the benefit of a skill set; similar to learning how to read a basic balance sheet. There’s no need to be an accountant, but it’s nice to know what people are talking about when it comes to the financial health of an organization.

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