What was your first job?

My daughter has been eager (to put it lightly) to enter the working world for some time, and this month she got her first job. After months of research and planning and dreaming and one nerve-wracking interview, she’s working the counter at a local bakery and she LOVES it—the business, the bustle, the TIPS!

We’ve been telling friends and family about her big milestone and sending out photos of her in her uniform. They all want reports on how it’s going. Some have even visited her at work, so they can see her in her element and ask her to ring them up for cookies and cupcakes.

These conversations often lead places I didn’t expect, though perhaps I should have. As it turns out, hearing about my daughter’s first job leads many people to reminisce about their own entry into the workforce. Not the pay-the-rent kind of jobs they had later, but the early earning opportunities of their teenage years.

When I was a teenager, I dreamed of a job like my daughter’s! I wanted to punch in a time card, wear a uniform, earn a regular paycheck I could take to the bank. But I didn’t do that till college. Instead, I babysat. I babysat ALL THE TIME. On weekend mornings, my dad recruited me to work in his law firm, replying to the incoming mail on the weekends while his paralegal was off. Both jobs paid well—better than my friends were making at the movie theater or ice cream shop—but I still romanticized the idea of getting a JOB job, one with a schedule posted on the wall, a monogrammed polo, and coworkers. (In hindsight, I think this last point was most important, but did I see that at the time? Of course not.)

In my college years I continued to babysit (which, truly, was the best job I could have had then). And I also got my first job with a time card, at the college library (I know you’re shocked!), where I worked the checkout desk and shelved returned books. My library job didn’t require a uniform, but it did provide regular paychecks, which I took great satisfaction in promptly depositing despite the hourly rate being half that of babysitting.

In my early twenties, I finally got a job that required a uniform, though I was old enough then that the idea had lost its charm. (And honestly, the company-laundered logo shirts I had to don for each shift were always a little bit stinky.) I waited tables for a time in the evenings, after I finished at my day job, an experience that I still, twenty years later, think of often, for all it taught me about not just coping with stress on my feet, but about being a good (kind, fair, gracious) customer.

My daughter goes to her fourth shift at the bakery today. The experience is still shiny and new; she’s still learning the ropes. But she’s so excited about all she has time to learn while she’s still in her high school years. I’m excited for her. I’m a little bit jealous. And, even though I know not every shift will be pure delight (if only!), I’m glad I get to watch her go through it all.

What words of advice would you offer my daughter for her first job? What was YOUR first job? We want to hear everything in comments!

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  1. Barb says:

    Loads of babysitting, of course. But my first job with an actual paycheque was working at a muffin shop. I was a college student and one of the perks was that I could take home any muffins that broke coming out of the pans. My three roommates loved the muffin tops I brought home (Choco-brananna, any one?) The down side was that I smelled like baking, and when I put my (gold with brown trim, hello 1979!)classic waitress uniform in the dryer, or ironed it, the smell of baking was powerful. I’d be ironing and someone would say “Are you baking something?”. I got to hate that smell, even though customers were always raving about it. And let’s not even talk about the smell in my hair!
    I learned so much from that job, the weirdness of humans, how to budget, how to be an efficient worker, about nepotism, and how hard you have to work to pay for things.

  2. Adrienne says:

    Congratulations to your daughter! I hope her experience is wonderful…
    I had a newspaper route, and also did the babysitting gig, but my first paycheck-job while I was in high school was at Dunkin Donuts. We had to wear the most hideous Pepto-Bismol pink dress, complete with a cutesy apron and nylons! Ugh. I worked the counter and after a few months, I worked graveyard shift on Friday and Saturday nights frosting and filling dozens upon dozens of donuts for the Saturday and Sunday morning crowds. I don’t how I did this… I went to school on Friday, went to football games or other school events on Friday evening, and then showed up to work at 11pm. Insane. This is where I developed a love for coffee, because I would drink cup after cup of Dunkin Donuts coffee to stay awake. I can commiserate with Barb (above) – for years afterwards I hated the smell of donuts! I learned a lot there though, so all in all, it was a positive experience.

    • Lisa says:

      My first job was at Dunkin’ Donuts too! I loved filling and glazing the donuts. It was fun waiting on customers at the counter and giving police officers their free coffee and donut.

  3. Pam says:

    Babysat, of course! Twenty-five cents an hour, to start with (1960s), and I retired from babysitting as soon as I could. Didn’t like it, couldn’t wait to quit!
    First ‘real’ job was at 15, when I was hired as a cashier at a downtown movie theatre – 1974 or 1975. Made $1.65 an hour to start, as I was only 15. Worked a couple of nights a week, and the occasional weekend matinee. Those were the days when people flocked to the movies – lineups around the block for the blockbusters (- is that where the name comes from?). And every transaction was in cash. No debit cards, etc. A lot of responsibility for a teenager, getting a line-up through quickly and at the end of your four-hour shift, balancing your books and getting a deposit ready to go to the bank, locked away in the safe for the assistant manager.
    Advice? Be on time, if not early. Focus on first things first. Remember that not everything is about you. Angry customers aren’t necessarily angry at you. You just happen to be there. Look for ways you can calm them and create a small win for both of you, without rewarding bad behaviour. Ask for help when you need it. Use any quieter times to get ready for the next busy time, your next ‘show’. If you think you still have nothing to do, ask! Always do a bit more than your boss expects. Be kind and pleasant to work with. Ignore your cellphone, except on your breaks. Nothing turns off a customer more than having to pry a worker away from their cellphone. And accept any perks that the job offers – like free movies when you aren’t working!

    An exciting time for your daughter! Congrats to her!

  4. Laura says:

    My first job was at a Chinese restaurant! I worked with friends and had such a nice time. I still am friendly with the owners when I go in there now.

    I think the one piece of advice I could give myself was to calm down (need to give this advice to myself in all my following jobs too!) but I would be come so stressed over things I can’t even remember today! It sounds like if she put a lot of work into this job she has a good work ethic and so sometimes it’s okay to remind yourself that it’s just a job and we are all so much more than a job.

  5. Pam says:

    My first job was at age ten working in the family tourist store modeled after Stuckey’s. Iwashed dishes, waited tables and wrapped packages of divinity candy (which I can’t stand the smell of tothis day.)

  6. Janene says:

    I hope your daughter loves her job at the bakery! It’s just the job I would have loved as a teenager!
    I also babysat for 50 cents an hour. I can’t believe that babysitters now get paid $20 an hour!! Unbelievable!! My other first job is only something that you do if you grow up in the Midwest – Iowa – and that was detassling corn. It’s a hot, sweaty job and the corn leaves make your arms itch but at the time it paid really well. It made my college job in the library seem like such a piece of cake!

    • Pam says:

      Oh, I forgot about the farm work. Day labour to earn money to buy a ten-speed bicycle. I hoed sugar beets for three day. Also a regional job. Sugar beets are big in my area. Backbreaking and hot. Ended up with blisters on my hands. Those rows seemed to go on forever. Yikes!

  7. Debbie says:

    I did a lot of babysitting and in the summer I was an assistant counselor at Girl Scout camp, but my first real job was after I turned 16 when I was hired part time at Woolworths. I worked as a cashier and at this time of year, I was moved to the stockroom to assemble Easter baskets for sale. I think I made $1.65 an hour!

  8. Susan says:

    Besides babysitting, I worked at a movie theater both behind the concession stand and in the ticket booth. It was a fun job!

  9. Emily says:

    I fondly remember my first job when I was 16, as a ride operator at a local amusement park! Aside from the thrill of operating roller coasters, I loved the people watching as well as making friends from other neighboring schools. I made friends those summers that have lasted a lifetime!

  10. Sandy says:

    All through university I worked weekends cooking in a nice Madison, WI nursing home, and for three undergraduate years I also worked during the week in the university language labs. A heavy schedule but I finished university and grad school with minimal loans.

  11. Cindy Booth says:

    My first job was making pizzas at Chuck E Cheese, so I smelled like pizza. I learned so much about keeping busy and stocking up when it got slow. The importance of planning ahead was probably the most valuable lesson.
    Here’s a book recommendation for your girl: The Motley Fool Investment Guide For Teens. If you haven’t already read it, that is. We just love the picture of sending those hard earned dollars (all dressed up in uniforms of their own) to work for you.

  12. Janna says:

    I babysat and couldn’t wait to quit that job! My first real job was working at a Western Auto store in our hometown. I loved every single day of that job!

  13. Chantelle Haynes says:

    My first job at 14 1/2 was at Baskin Robbins. My grandparents owned the store. I have so many fond memories. It was a great first job and I learned a lot about customer service. My grandparents were great teachers. I worked there through high school and college. I wanted to own my own store for a very long time.

  14. Jennifer Buch says:

    Babysat, of course. But my real first job was at a deli counter in a grocery store and I loved it. I worked with a lot of Amish and Mennonite ladies and we laughed and had so much fun. Saw whole pigs hanging in the freezer. Learned how to cut up a whole chicken into pieces. Despised when people asks for liver. Snuck pieces of cheese and lunchmeat for snacks. It was fun!

  15. Roxane Gravel says:

    A first job is a Big Step! After years of babysitting (five kids under 6 all day Saturdays), and housecleaning (mainly the kitchen), I got my first real paycheque from McDonald’s in 1977, where the first three, 3-hour shifts of corporate (video) training were paid time.
    Words of advice: learn something new every day. When your own work is done, offer to help a coworker with theirs (barring safety or union issues). Then, do what no one else likes doing. Success is liking what you “have to do.” Pace yourself. And most importantly, smile, be kind and have loads of fun!

  16. Kelli Roberts says:

    Congratulations to your daughter! What a fun job! I did the babysitting thing too – so funny to think that we were in charge of other people’s children at 12! And our town had a program called Rent-a-Kid, where people could hire a kid to do various jobs (I stripped paint from an elaborate staircase for a college professor). But my first paycheck job in high school was working at the front desk at our local YMCA. I loved that job, and soon added swim instructor and lifeguard to my resume. I learned so much about being professional, and how to treat customers/guests well. It’s such an easy thing, and so rewarding for everyone, to be pleasant when someone needs help or just has a question. And a smile goes a long way!

  17. Stacie Kenney says:

    My first job was at the local State Fair, working at a stand that made fresh lemonade, corn dogs, and cheese-on-a-stick (like a corn dog, but instead of a hot dog, there’s melted American cheese inside). It was a lot of fun, and I made money for cool school clothes. Depending on where you are working, I think safety is important, for transportation to and from work. I did a lot of walking and didn’t think twice about safety being a naive teenager from the burbs.

  18. Kira says:

    My first job was at a college bookstore. My tasks mainly involved shelving books for all the college courses (which sometimes involved the shrink wrap machine) with a little bit of cashier experience thrown in. It was so much fun to see what books all the English classes were using.
    Congratulations to your daughter on her first job! My advice: take the time to enjoy it!

  19. Kim says:

    My first job was a summer job – working at an amusement park in the food department. I loved that job and had it until I graduated from college. I started out as the “Bomb Pop” girl but quickly became the person who gave everyone else their breaks. I was able to move around and not get bored and learned how to work at several of the stands/restaurants. Still have small scars on my hands from working at the pizza shop! My favorite job was my last job there – I was the baker for the gingerbread shop.

    Your first job is unique – learning responsibility and how to handle money without being on your own yet. Enjoy it! You’ll find out about your work ethic and others, your likes and dislikes in the tasks you have to do, and ultimately, it will help you figure out who who want to be. Best of luck to you!

  20. Bridget =) says:

    I also babysat SO MUCH but when I got into high school, that sort of waned away. I got a job at my local library as a page (shelving books, but then working the front desk too), and loved it so much that I got a job in the magazine section of my college library too! LOVED the flexibility!!!! My advice to any kid is to be friendly but that people these days are entitled and rude, so don’t be shocked if the smallest thing sets someone off.

  21. Olivia says:

    Congrats to your daughter on her bakery job – that sounds like such a fun job! I did a lot of babysitting, but my first actual uniform job was as a cashier at Alco (a store in my hometown, kind of like a cross between Walmart and Dollar General–our town was too small for a Walmart). I do remember being excited for the blue vest uniform and for running the register and scanner. Unfortunately, it was a very toxic work environment; from my very first day my boss berated me and threatened to fire me if I didn’t do well or learn fast enough. (I was just a high school student, too!)

    My advice would be to learn to stand up for yourself early on if you need to. Not in a confrontational way, just so that you don’t let people treat you poorly if a line is crossed. Also, this experience helped me to appreciate the great bosses I had later on in life; so it was still a valuable learning experience.

  22. Caitlin B says:

    My first job was a bakery!
    I was 17 and worked the Saturday lunch rush but would occasionally get early (8am) morning calls asking me to come in and help open as someone was off sick. I loved the responsibilities and it helped me get so much better at talking to strangers (especially my colleagues).
    My advice: Talk to everyone – especially your colleagues who work full time. They are likely to all come from completely different backgrounds and situations – genuine interest in them is always a good place to start.

    My 2nd job was a pub in my university town (UK legal drinking age is 18). Getting the night bus back to halls smelling of really cheap beer and spirits was the worst.

  23. Jennifer says:

    At 16 I began my first job working as a grocery store cashier. I was elated to earn my own money. However, I was made to wear a button that read, I never say no. This was in the mid 90’s. It was meant to convey that I give excellent customer service. What it created was lots of uncomfortable customer interactions. Best of luck to your daughter, be prepared for “those” customers. After a year I switched to lifeguarding because it paid much more, but also came with its own set of problems(wearing a bathing suit to work also brings unwelcomed comments). I had a blast spending my summers outdoors. Stay strong in those moments, don’t let them overshadow your awesome new job.

  24. Sally says:

    How fun to work at a bakery! At least you’ll be smelling much better than I did at my first job. I worked at Wendy’s and my first position there was making the French fries! It was smelly and I went home a greasy mess! After awhile I worked my way up to sandwich maker (which was a bit stressful and still messy!) and then to the cash register which was nice because I didn’t go home all greasy!
    You never forget your first job – hope it continues to go well for your daughter!

    • Sue says:

      My first job was as a French Fry maker also but at an independent drive through that sold mainly fried chicken. We were a buncha kids eager to work and we had the best times. We could eat all the food we wanted and used to make off menu chicken sandwiches for ourselves. Smelled like fried chicken but it wasn’t too bad bc my boyfriend worked there too!

  25. Jill says:

    Good luck to your daughter! Exciting times. I did the babysitting for 50 cents/hour and worked at a summer playschool for kindergarten-aged kids. Both I loved as I got my degree in elementary education. Also did a little retail at local department store and got to work in the record (music on vinyl!) department which was great fun since I got to listen to all the latest LP’s. Certainly dating myself here! However my most interesting job (still as an older teenager) was in a clean factory assembling parts – with time clock check in and out. Once at the end of my shift I had a few pieces left on my table so I just went ahead to finish up those few pieces so I would have a clean table. But the time clock had ticked ending time and everyone around me got on my case for working past scheduled time. I was just trying to do a complete job. It was a lesson learned in how the real world works as disappointing as that was to me. The extra parts probably took about 1 minute to do! After college my first job was as a kindergarten teacher and I was in heaven!

  26. Katy says:

    My first job (besides teaching piano from age 14) was also in a local bakery when I was in college! I was just as excited as she! The funny thing is that the owner said I was hired because of my car. I was driving a 1931 Model A pickup and he asked if I would be using that to get to work and told me I was hired! LOL I loved the job! Because it was a local establishment, there was a lot of camaraderie among the workers and employees in other shops on the same strip. I hope she can experience the same! We also had MANY regulars and it was so much fun to prepare their orders as they came in the door. It wasn’t unusual for us to get tips which were always a delight. We could tell what time the churches got out on Sunday morning because there would be rushes at specific times. (I had to attend at dawn on days that I was scheduled as we opened very early!) For years when I traveled back to the area I would stop in and catch up on news of the owner or coworkers. So sad that he and the shop are gone now. Many fond memories of crazy exploits. It was definitely more than just a job!

  27. Alice says:

    My first real job was at a second-run movie theatre as a teenager. Overall, it was a great experience. It was hard work during busy times but I had a lot of fun and met some wonderful friends there, plus free movies and snacks! I’m going to go a bit darker here on my advice, and say this is also a good time to discuss with your daughter about workplace harassment of any kind – from customers, co-workers, or managers – and what to do if it happens. Besides dealing with the occasional angry or inebriated customer, I had a much older manager who often had me be the one to stay late to do inventory, and that time often involved extremely inappropriate remarks and questions from him. Working at a bakery is a different environment, of course, but it’s important to have some awareness of what to do if any type of harassment ever happens at work! 

  28. Victoria says:

    My first job was also at the local bakery. It was a win win as I got to make money and on a Saturday afternoon I was allowed to bring home any bread or cakes that were unsold. I went on to manage the main branch of the chain before I went to college! Invaluable experience for what ended up being a career in retail management

  29. Carolyn Derby says:

    In the summers, I babysat for the children of a local pediatrician. I learned so much from the “go with the flow” mom, who had paints, crafts, books, and music for the kids and who had loads of patience. Once I was in college, I also got to substitute for the doctor’s secretary when she went away. I learned so much there, too. how to efficiently do business things like post checks and how to be friendly and helpful to the parents in the waiting room. One summer I was a “runner” in a large bank. I learned the banking atmosphere was not for me and went on to teach young children for my first career.

  30. Angelique Richardson says:

    My first real paid job was also my all time favourite job. I was a candy girl at the local movie theatre – it was the 80s and this was the job title. I never made more than $5/hour but it was the perfect job during high school. To this day I still love movies and popcorn!

  31. Audrey says:

    I think your daughter has my dream job! I’ve always wanted to work at a bakery or florist!

    Besides babysitting and camp counselor, my first real job was working at the Gap the summer before I started college. I distinctly remember going off to freshman year with some great clothes I paid for myself (with my employee discount, of course). I actually really enjoyed it and worked retail on and off throughout school and after, both at national brands and small boutiques. Unfortunately, like so many other service jobs, rarely does it pay a living wage and it’s hard on the body to stand for that many hours.

  32. Suzanne says:

    I am so excited for your daughter and if I lived near you I would definitely come patronize the bakery. My first job was in a used paperback bookstore which was my version of heaven. The pay was low but I got to take home any book I wanted and read it. Talk about a kid in a candy store!! Later on I was a fill in teller at a bank which was much more structured with time cards and a pay check etc. Both were rewarding jobs that taught me a lot.

  33. My first official job began at the age of nine, for my father’s farm. I had specific cattle chores to do each day, which paid me nine dollars a day, and that, in turn, was enough to pay for the feed for the orphan calf I had adopted (with pennies of income). I kept a ledger of money in and out, and earned extra on heavier chore days. I was able to start my own beef cattle business that way, and learned work ethic and the value of hard work and attention to detail.

    At 15, I started working in school administration office around my own school and life schedule- filing papers, preparing mail outs… and eventually answering phones and taking on more responsibility. I loved it, and after college I went back to the school board. I’m now the COO there, operating a private high school, shared responsibility school/homeschool 1-8, and operating Alberta’s largest home education administration.

    I love what I do!

  34. Mary Ann Christman says:

    My first job was our town’s bakery, though it was before the days when tips were everywhere. I loved it! My advice is to take whatever opportunities she can to learn different jobs if they let her. I started out working the counter but eventually learned to help the bakers fill donuts, decorate cakes, etc. I think I could still make buttercream roses if I tried! 😀

  35. Gina says:

    My first job was at a bookstore (big surprise in this crowd)! I went to my local B. Dalton every week once I turned 16, begged them to hire me and they did! I enjoyed all aspects of the job (shelving, working the cash register, helping customers pick out books etc.) and especially the employee discount. Lessons from my experience have helped me later in life—customer service, making change, balancing the receipts and teamwork were all useful in my career. Good luck and have fun!

  36. Kate Flynn says:

    Because of child labor laws, I had to get special permission from the governor to work my first job at age 14 in a carryout chicken restaurant in St. Louis (Riverboat Kitchens!). I learned to add LONG columns of numbers because the register didn’t add. It’s a skill I still possess! Only problem was walking 1.5 hours to get there and back. When late I had to hitchhike (1975)!

  37. Jodi says:

    My first job was a filing clerk at an insurance company. You can be sure that I know my ABC’s 🤣. My next job was working at a movie theater. We rarely had more than 10 customers , I got a lot of homework done. I second the advice to enjoy bonding with co-workers.

  38. Linda Sullivan says:

    My first time clock job was at our local grocery store, Food Country U.S.A., my senior year in high school. I loved seeing friends waiting in my line, making new ones & answering the same question 1,000x, “Yes, I am Pete’s daughter & Fanny’s granddaughter.” 🙂 Also, there were so many new food items to try!
    Advice for your daughter: Show up on time & smile (especially when she doesn’t feel like it).

  39. Sarah says:

    My first paid gig was weeding for my Grandmother (I didn’t love gardening at the time, but it must have seeped in because now it’s a favorite hobby), followed by some babysitting and pet-sitting for neighbors. My first ‘real’ job was as a kennel tech at our veterinarian’s office (much smellier than your daughter’s job). It’s practically a rite of passage for those trying to go to vet school, and I loved it.

  40. Sally says:

    My first job was at 15, playing the bass guitar in a rock band in Northern California. I stayed in the band for many years and the stories I could tell! LOL My advice to your daughter is the same I gave to my 17 year old Granddaughter who works for Crumbl Cookies, be on time, be kind and don’t take what customers say personally, because you don’t know what might be going on in their lives.

  41. Stacy says:

    Baby-sitting as a “tween”… then I worked as a lifeguard at our local pool and later a cashier at a grocery store!

  42. Carol Lindberg says:

    My first job was babysitting ($1 per hour) contrasted to the small fortune babysitters can make today! I loved babysitting. I also worked at a snack bar at a country club. During college, I was a TA for my economics professor & my accounting professor (ultimately becoming the head TA). All of this led to my career starting as public accounting. Vanderbilt didn’t have an accounting degree (obviously I didn’t think I wanted to be a CPA when I selected Vandy). I ended up doing a 5 year BA/MBA program & taking 4 additional accounting classes at Belmont College on top of my Vandy load. So three lessons here – being exposed to new things will give you ideas on what you love, hate or are indifferent about, where there’s a will there’s a way & bring creative & flexible can make a difference.

  43. Carol in Texas says:

    I never babysat…..it surely would have helped when I became a mother!!!….but my first summer job was in the Children’s Room of the Houston Public Library at the checkout desk. I loved that library and I loved that room…..it was downtown in a beautiful old building….it may still be used for that….I surely hope so. In college I worked at Battelstein’s, a top level Houston department store, in the men’s department selling mainly ties. I worked there summers and Christmas holidays and I appreciated being kept on after the Father’s Day rush was over. But it taught me that I did NOT want to be a salesperson for my livelihood! I enjoyed teaching elementary school MUCH more!

  44. Miriam Rudge says:

    I didn’t work as a teen. I had health problems and couldn’t even manage to be at school full time. My first real job was therefore after university as a Healthcare PR intern. A very different type of job to the type teens commonly do as first jobs. Unless you count the one day I spent as a paid tour guide on my university campus – a friend was one of the co-ordinations and they were looking for volunteers to get paid £10/hour for 4 hours work.

    I had a pretty busy course load studying Biomedical Science though and supportive parents who could afford to help me, so I didn’t work a proper job at Uni – my parents were keen for me to catch up on the social opportunities I’d missed as a teen instead due to being ill so those took priority after my course.

    Due to having developed further health problems that are currently stopping me from being able to work, I’m not best placed to give out advice on working as I’ve had much more limited experience than I’d hoped would have been the case by now. From my time working in PR though, I’d say never be afraid to say I don’t know how to do that but could you please show me. Also, if you mess up admit it sooner rather than later, apologise sincerely and most people won’t hold it against you.

  45. Belle says:

    A&W carhop here. Thankfully, it was not trendy to do that job in roller skates where I come from. However, hooking heavy trays to car windows and using a coin counter on my belt to give back change were life skills! I perpetually smelled like a French fry too. Worst experience is when horses and their riders would park because horses are decidedly not embarrassed to lift their tales whenever the need arises and carhops were responsible for shoveling that. Enjoy the bakery!

  46. Dee says:

    Like everyone else, I babysat from the age of 12 on (shocking today!). I also put ads in the paper to do odd jobs and took coats for tips at a coat check at an event hall where my mom and aunt moonlighted in catering. On New Year’s Eve, I made a bundle.

    My first JOB job was in a combo diner/sundries shop. It was in an office building and I checked people out. My biggest sales were for cigarettes and lottery tickets – interesting since I’d always been anti-smoking. But I loved guessing what everyone’s brand would be! Cigarettes were only 90 cents at the time!

  47. Diane says:

    My first job (other than working on family farm) was driving a school bus at age 16. Unbelievable to think of today, but this was 1974! Plenty of responsibility and headaches with unruly elementary kiddos. And I had to get off the bus and walk to nearby home to use the phone if we got stuck on the unpaved country roads I drove.

  48. Cora Lazor Weiland says:

    Besides babysitting, my first job was a hostess and cashier at Perkins. I loved it – except for the fact that I had to clean the bathrooms. From that point on, I was hooked on restaurants and waitresses through college and grad school. I learned how hard many people work – often at more than one job in a service industry – and met so many different people I probably otherwise wouldn’t have interacted with.

  49. Deby says:

    I did some babysitting but my first job was several weeks after HS graduation with a major national drug/sundry distributor to drug stores. I was a keypunch operator and eventually progressed to the main frame computer operator. I loved it and the people I worked with. I pushed myself to improve every day. I was told the first raise would be in 6 months but I received mine in 3 months. My advice would be to be dependable, honest and strive to do more than you are required.

  50. Lyn says:

    Congrats on the first job! I worked as library page starting at age 13 until I left for college. I was one of the youngest and had to pass a test and get permission from parents and school, given labor laws in the 70s. Public entities weren’t required to pay minimum wage. Everyone went to the library, pre internet so it was nice to see friends, had great hours, flexibility, and books!
    My recommendation is to learn to do things that might not be in your job description by volunteering to help in any down time. You will be appreciated as good worker, team player, but also gain skills in other areas. Best of luck on your new adventure!
    Also learned about gender issues at the bank. Checks, not bank cards, were most used then. I and the other female pages were not allowed to open checking accounts, but my male peers with paper routes were. After some research, I found bank in neighboring town that endorsed it. I, along with my fellow pages, moved out banking business out of town. They eventually opened branch in our town. And I’m still banking there (well they were bought).
    Stay strong and stand up for what you need! Keep us posted.

  51. Margee Krebs says:

    Hooray for first jobs and congratulations to your daughter!

    I started a “play school” for young children when I was 12, held at my house (Mom was home, too!), where we played games, did crafts, had snack, and parents could have 3 hours to themselves for 2 or 3 days per week. It was fun and exhausting!

    My first “real” job was working at a local greenhouse/florist. Some days were spent potting up endless begonias, but the magical days were the ones spent in the florist shop, where I learned how to arrange and care for cut flowers – skills I’ve used throughout my life!

    Advice for your daughter? Enjoy the feeling of earning your own money, learning new things and dealing with ALL sorts of people! These things will serve you well now and further down the road. Good luck!

  52. Sarah says:

    I worked at a nursing home as an activities person during high school on the weekends and one day a week. It was hard and could be very sad at times, but I loved getting to plan activities–bingo, movie nights, crafts, cooking lessons, you name it! But their favorite activity was to have fancy cookie brought in and to sit around and tell me stories. I paid well for a high schooler and I learned a lot about being kind and caring with the elderly. When I left for college, they threw me a party:)

  53. Hope W says:

    Congratulations to your daughter! I also did a lot of babysitting, but my first schedule-and-paycheck job was as a page at my hometown library. My advice for your daughter: it’s OK to say “I don’t know; let me find out for you”.

  54. Nancy O says:

    My first job was a hostess at a Mexican resteraunt. I loved the job, not the smell of my hair afterwards, but it was worth it. My mom told me to take my first paycheck and go buy something I always wanted as most of our lives we can’t use our paychecks in this way. I went and bought a gold ring which I still have and sometime wear to this day. It reminds me of my first job, my sweet mother’s advice and that special time in my life.

  55. Cheryl says:

    I worked in a hardware store that also sold toys. I was hired during the Christmas rush and will never forget the grandmother who came in and with my help put together a whole band of instruments for her grandchildren. Those poor parents. Best advice – always be on time – people are relying on you.

  56. Ellen says:

    Congrats to your daughter! My advice to her is to “give it her all,” enjoy every minute of meeting all types of people and don’t take anything too personally. (Especially while working with the general public.)
    I had a few simultaneous first jobs. Cleaning my oldest brother’s room once a week (25 cents for the WHOLE JOB!) and babysitting for numerous neighbors’ kids. (50 cents per hour.)
    I tried waitressing at one point but was really bad at it so that didn’t last long.
    During my college years I worked in the dining hall and sorted silverware. After awhile I got the coveted job of working “the line- dishing out meals with my college roommate, Joan. We had lots of laughs and would hold the line up at times yakking away with friends.
    College summers were spent shucking shellfish, steaming and cracking lobsters and driving the fish truck to local restaurant customers. My sister worked with me on seafood runs and all she ever talked about were boys!
    Great memories for sure.

  57. Dana J Kumerow says:

    Babysitting for 50 cents an hour in the 70s. Then a series of food service jobs at an amusement park: at a famimy style restaurant,an ice cream parlor, and a foid cart for 1.85 an hour. I thought I was rich! Then I worked in the dining hall of an upscale retirement home. My last job before graduating college was a home goods boutique, which was my favorite. I worked my way up to night manager and got to create window displays, meet with reps and order inventory etc.

  58. Leanne says:

    My first job (age 16) was in the bakery business also – in a grain company. It was a full-time summer job at the Grain Exchange in downtown Minneapolis. I felt like such an adult as I rode a city bus, took coffee breaks with the adults (that’s where I learned to drink coffee) and made a whopping $1.60 an hour (1968). Working in the bindery department we sent mailings to bakeries all over the country. Advice: always stay busy and ask for other jobs to do when it’s slow. It makes the time go quickly and is very satisfying to be helpful.

  59. Kimberly says:

    I was Christmas elf for a drunk Santa Claus. Looking back it was hilarious. I was a baby sitter most of the time and you are so right is was better hours and better money. I think the best thing you learn at that age is how to work and how to be a good employee and get along with others. But at the same time what are good boundaries. I wish her good luck with this new endeavor.

  60. Our daughter started at our local small-town bakery at 14. She started with loading the beverage cooler and unpacking boxes of food and repackaging it into portion sizes. It was not as fun as she had hoped. She cleaned bathrooms and cleaned up after customers but she stuck it out. She dealt with rude customers in person and on the phone. Now, she is a “keyholder” and happily goes to work every shift. My advice, always have a smile!

    My first job was waitressing and if that isn’t throwing you to the wolves at 16 I don’t know what was. I learned a lot about customer care, food prep, and working with others, but it is also some of my best teen memories.

  61. Sherry S says:

    My first paid job was babysitting in a church during their Sunday services. I then started paying half of my private-school bill at 15 years old grading papers for the religion teacher/librarian and running the library counter.
    Obviously, the school job was at student pay. My first minimum-wage job was as a hotel maid for the summer between high school and starting college. It was HARD work; I wore out the knees of my uniform scrubbing toilets in just that three months. It sure made me want to go to college…

  62. Tamara says:

    As a teenager I babysat but as soon as I reached an age where I could get a work permit I became a waitress. I loved waitressing because of the tips. I felt rich! Ha! When I was 16 one summer I worked at a horse stable and also worked on a tractor that pulled a harrow to turn the hay after it was cut to be sure it dried well before they baled it.
    Advice: Be on time which means at least 15 minutes before your actual starting time, be friendly, honest, kind, but most of all do more than what is expected of you and always do your best. You represent the business if the owner/manager is in the background so put your best foot forward!

  63. Karen Quinn says:

    Congratulations to your daughter! First jobs are always special. My first paying job was during my freshman year of college in Washington DC. It was the year they opened up the Kennedy Center for the performing Arts. I was able to get a job as an usher, and also as a tour guide on Saturdays. The best perk of the job was being able to stand in the back and watch all of the performances for free!! Brings back a lot of fun memories.

  64. Adrienne says:

    My first job was at a florist and garden center. Fifteen years have gone by and I still miss it (although, perhaps not Valentine’s Day), especially the spring rush. Turned me into a gardener and plant lady for life apparently!

  65. Sofia says:

    Congratulations to your daughter 🙂 My advice would be if you make a mistake it will be ok. We all make them and it’s part of learning anything new. Each day your skills will get better and you will grow. Enjoy the delicious sweets. ☺️

  66. Elizabeth Thomas says:

    My first job was…also in a bakery! My mom was a professional cake decorator, and she helped me land a Saturday job at the bakery she worked in, which I did my entire senior year of high school to earn money for a post-graduation trip to London with my high school theater troupe. I didn’t love it, but I loved the money. Many jobs later, I eventually got a master’s degree in career counseling & development, so am endlessly fascinated by career choices and career influences. I always tell young clients, “You only know what you know — you will never pick something you’ve never been exposed to — so widening your lens and trying things out first-hand is the best thing you can do when you’re young.”

  67. Mary says:

    Congratulations on your new job!
    My first job (after babysitting) was working at a local plant nursery. Lots of customer service, but what I really loved was when it was slow and I could spend hours with a hose watering. Just me and the plants and my dreams! (I still love plants both inside and out)

  68. HL says:

    My first job was as a server with a catering business. The food industry is demanding! It’s also a lot of fun and provides loads of stories. My advice would be to trust that you’ll find your own rhythm.

  69. Barbara Leonard says:

    Best of luck to your daughter in her new job…it sounds like fun!
    My advice is to arrive early, ready to work, don’t call in sick and be willing to happily do whatever is asked of her…
    My first job was one I haven’t seen listed in comments yet — I was a telephone operator for “Ma Bell”…full time every summer and most every holiday because pay was double time and a half! This was back in the 70s and we actually connected long distance calls with cords— the old fashioned way!

  70. Robin Walker says:

    My first job was right across the river from you, Anne, in Edwardsville, Indiana at a wonderful ice cream and burger place called Polly’s Freeze. They are celebrating their 70th anniversary this year. You all should take a drive over for a treat!

  71. Alexis says:

    My teenage son just started his first job at a trampoline park. He straps kids into a harness for the rock climbing wall. Since he started (a week ago mind you) he feels more mature to me. He is taking responsibility for when he works and how to request days off and communicating with me concerning his schedule since he relies on my uber services. 🙂

    My first job was at 11 years old babysitting and I did that through college. One summer between high school and college I nannied for a baby, but also got my first paycheck job at a used bookstore!

    I did have one job at an ice cream store for only one day. They hired me and scheduled me to work Fourth of July then fired me. I think they needed coverage for that day but didn’t really need another employee on the books. Then they proceeded to not pay me. After leaving several messages, my dad said he was going to drive me over and I was going to get out and ask them to be paid in person. He drove me over and sat in the car while little teenage me gets out and asks to be paid. I will never forget that experience and what it taught me – stick up for myself and ask for what I deserve. 🙂

  72. My first job….. in a flower store. Initially, I cleaned the refrigerated cases, swept, did trash duty, answered phones, etc. But, as my first job came to a close (got another job with more hours, better pay), I taking simple orders, making boutonnières, wrist corsages & funeral sprays. Best memory: I was good enough to fill-in on Valentine’s & Mother’s Day & for wedding bookings. Worst part: my hands were full of little cuts from cleaning flower stems & were often GREEN from working with flowers.
    Best advice: Volunteer to “up your game” meaning…. Learn new skills & meet new people. Be polite & listen attentively (eyes on the client). Ask for a letter of recommendation (new job, scholarship purposes). Put your CELL PHONE away. Be kind! The owner of the flower shop did the flowers for my wedding….. at a discount (free!).

  73. Tania Moore says:

    Lots of babysitting which led me to YMCA Day Counselor for $33 a week- that’s how old I am!! Loved it and it prepared for 33 years as an elementary teacher!!

  74. Karla says:

    Congratulations to your daughter! First jobs are memorable – I hope her experience is the best.
    Like many others, I did the babysitting gig for several years, and answered phones for the neighbor guy’s business, which was good pocket money. But the first job that required an application, interview, and paid a standard hourly wage ($1.40!) was at a nursing home as a nurse’s aide. I worked the 4-8 shift after school and weekends at first, full-time evenings in the summers, and I loved the job enough to do it till after graduation and moving away till college.
    The one piece of advice I would give a new worker would be to keep at it. Even when the job gets hard, a customer gets nasty, a client rides you hard, find something good to focus on and keep at it. The rewards of loyalty are many and worth working for. There’s also much to be gained in learning how to handle tough situations, even if you have to ask for help or a break.

  75. Colleen Bonilla says:

    HA! I was such a late bloomer; my sister (10 months older than me) got all the babysitting jobs in our neighborhood. Then they built this big, beautiful shopping mall nearby and my best friend and I filled out applications for the stores we wanted to work at. She got a job at a cool clothing store and I got nothing. Apparently, those prospective employers thought I was too young. I finally got my first job when I was 19 years old – as receptionist at an optometrist’s office for $20 per week. I thought I had hit the big time!

  76. I taught piano lessons during my junior and senior year of high school. I grew up in a rural area of North Dakota so jobs were not plentiful – like there were no restaurants except a Tastee Freeze that was open during the summer months and they didn’t need much in the way of staff. My english teacher taught piano lessons on the side and was ready to give up that gig, so she transferred her 9 students to me and I also taught my younger sister (which was a HORRIBLE idea – there was much arguing…). In college, my first job was working in the shoe department of JC Penneys. Then I got horribly sexually harassed by the loss prevention guy but instead of reporting it, I quit and got a job as a waitress which is a job that I LOVED!! I would have loved to have a first job like your daughter has. I am glad my kids will have lots of employment opportunities when they reach that age.

  77. Jennifer H says:

    I’m loving how many fellow library workers as first job there are! Me too, first at the branch across the street from my highschool and then in the college library. I’m still waiting on my son to get his first job although I had to stop “encouraging” him when I realized I was becoming naggy 🙂

  78. Jenny says:

    My first job, besides babysitting, was working at the local grocery store in high school. Even though I am very much an introvert, I loved interacting with the customers (they typically weren’t too crabby, and even if they were, they didn’t stick around long!). I worked there before scanners, so I have excellent 10-key skills, which comes in handy when I need to enter data into Excel!
    My boss there told me on day one to always say thank you to your customers, and that is my advice to your daughter! Sounds like a fun first job!

  79. Nanette says:

    I didn’t babysit at all. My first job was stuffing envelopes for my mom’s secretarial business when I was around 10. She didn’t pay me and I thought it was so much fun I didn’t care! I worked as a legal secretary for my dad while I was in high school. Then I started doing secretarial work for friends of my mom’s. My first college job was as an admissions assistant – I did that all four years. My mom bought me a manual typewriter when I was 13 because she wanted me to have a fall-back job as a secretary. That work got me through college so I’m grateful for that.

  80. Michelle says:

    I was a senior in high school and I landed my dream job at a BOOKSTORE! It was a small B. Dalton that was situated across from the food court at our town mall, so it always smelled like fried rice and corn dogs. My first day of work was the same day that Harry Potter #4 came out, so I had to wear a black cape and a lightning-bolt tattoo on my forehead. I remember the day that Jamie Lee Curtis came to sign copies of her children’s book. I was not allowed anywhere near her, of course, haha! I loved making small talk with customers and helping them hunt for just the right book.

    My advice? Have a great attitude about your job. Do your work like it matters—because it does! Be the person who everyone wants to work with because you are fun to be around, and you’re always in a good mood. Try to lift people up, support them, and encourage them. You can change the course of someone’s entire day with your sunshine.

  81. Jackie says:

    Like most people responding, my first paying job was as a babysitter. I lived in a pretty dense neighborhood with oodles of little kids and not many teenagers, so I was pretty busy. I was booked for New Years Eve months in advance!

    My first non-babysitting job was as a lifeguard at our local small beach. I had earned my life saving certificate my freshman year at college for Phys Ed credit. It was a VERY stressful job, but I got a great tan and lost 10-15 pounds, so I looked fantastic when I went back to college in the Fall.

  82. Erin says:

    Aw, so many sweet memories from people in the comments. My first job was at age 14 as an usher at a community theater. I just really loved theater and asked the general manager if I could work there. I remember having to procure a work permit before my interview. I made $14.35 an hour to greet patrons and just be a presence at the theater and help anyone that needed assistance. Plus, I got to watch all the programming — musicals, plays, concerts, dance programs. No uniform, but the culture of the workplace was to dress a bit fancy, like a banker. I wore a “How can I help you?” button on my lapel. Looking back, I can’t believe I wore nylons and heels at every shift. I wanted to look sophisticated! (cringe) That was in 1989 — and, wow, except for the heels, I’d do it again. It was a great job!

  83. Amy says:

    My first job past babysitting was working at Sesame Place, a Sesame Street themed amusement park. Talk about a lovely uniform—polyester golf shirts, pants, aprons and hats, all red, yellow and green with a Big Bird logo. Such a fun job!

  84. Michelle says:

    I also babysat a ton! I loved it and worked with some super families. The other job that I had every summer starting at age 12 was kitchen assistant and dishwasher at a local Nazarene campground. I worked so hard but adored the job because lots of other teens worked there. I’m still friends with some of the people I worked with, and I’m in my midfifties now:)
    My first advice would be to save more money than you want to. The other would be to learn every little element of the job you can; you never know when those skills will come in handy!

  85. Susan says:

    My first job in the summers when I was 14 and 15 was working on the tobacco fields in CT. Long days, $.50 an hour, but I learned to work hard and still have fun. It was a great experience.

  86. Suzy says:

    I avoided babysitting like the plague! My first job was actually at ages 11 and 12 when I got a paper route after school. It was good in good weather, not so much in bad. My favorite day was pay day! I spent my money on sweets! But my mother made me quit just before I turned 13, worrying about a soon-to-be teenage girl roaming the streets alone at dusk in the winter. Understandable, but it was just before Christmas and I missed all the Christmas tips!!! I did get to volunteer at the School Library in 7th grade (yes, dream job!) Then we moved to the country and I had no car, so all I could do was odd jobs if my mother took us to pick fruit and then let us hawk it in the neighborhood, or to give pony rides at the county fair. My first job after high school was for my father as a secretary/budding accountant—he was just starting his own CPA office and I got paid $2/hr in 1976! I was cheap help and not so good on the telephone. I did learn to be a whiz on the adding machine, though, which helped me later in my career as a bookkeeper.
    Then after a semester of college, I dumped it all, and moved to Maine, where my first job was at Kentucky Fried Chicken for 3 months. Smarmy guys would come up to the window and ask, “Do you have Extra Crispy Thighs?” I will tell you, though, I have never gotten tired of the smell of fried chicken!!
    Here in Maine, every August kids used to rake blueberries to get money to buy school clothes. That doesn’t happen much anymore, it’s all mechanized, and kids don’t work that hard anymore, anyway!
    For advice, people have covered most things, but 1) Don’t eat too many of those donuts! 2)be scrupulously honest in 1. the cash 2. what you are allowed to eat there 3. your time. 3) Be reliable, don’t call in sick unless you are really sick! 4)Don’t take nasty customers personally 5) memorize, and don’t be afraid to say, “Let me get the manager for you!” with a smile. You don’t have to handle everything! 6) Open both savings and checking accounts and learn how to use them.
    Congrats on your daughter’s job!

  87. Heidi says:

    My first payroll, tax form job was a summer gig right before college working for a small company that scanned documents into word processing software. My job was to compare the original with the scanned information and make sure they matched. I remember checking a manual on helicopter repair, and a history of the battle of the Dardanelles in World War I. The Dardanelle Straits separate Turkey from Greece, and whoever controlled them controlled access between the Black Sea and the Mediterranean Sea. It was so interesting! Then, like so many others, I spent three years of college working as a page in the periodicals department of our public library.

    My advice? Don’t assume your superiors are just waiting for you to screw up. You will screw up, that’s for certain, and in my experience, if you apologize and work hard not to repeat your mistakes, your bosses will be kind and understanding.

  88. Babysitting, so much babysitting. But my first job with the posted schedule and uniform and coworkers out of diapers was at Arby’s for about 14 months before leaving for college. Working fast food is an EXPERIENCE. I still avoid going through drive-thru’s to this day, even 20 years later. So many orders messed up back then because we couldn’t hear! Although they probably have better equipment now.

  89. Denise says:

    1st job was seasonal; wrapping Christmas presents at the local department store. Taught me how to think outside of the box (some presents are hard to wrap). Make saving $ a habit, even with your 1st job. And I still wrap a mean present.

  90. Anne says:

    As a 16-year-old, I was a cashier at my neighborhood supermarket. I wore an unflattering blue smock. And there were no scanners, so inability to do basic math in my head was a liability. One of my favorite memories is when a customer alerted me that “some man is waving at you from outside the plate glass window.” It was (of course) my dad, stopping by to check up on me. My best advice is enjoy yourself. I couldn’t wait to move on to higher-paying admin office work while in college, but I rarely had as much fun as that summer.

  91. Deborah Larson says:

    My first job was at Dairy Delight, a local family-owned ice cream shoppe. I made $1.10 an hour. As for uniforms, we had to wear white uniforms we purchased ourselves. They were technically nursing uniforms we had to buy from a medical uniform shop, because they were the only local business that carried totally white uniforms.

  92. Ali Barnes says:

    My first job was at…a bookstore! It was called Pickwick Papers and I got paid $1.80 an hour. Of course that paycheck came home mostly in books! I felt so grown up working there, even though my parents had to drive me there and pick me up. I was so grateful for that job because it gave me the beginning of a good resume and the beginning of a good collection of books.

  93. Alice says:

    Exciting times! My first job started at 10 as a Mother’s Helper. Then progressed to babysitting for 1-3 dollars an hour depending on the family. In graduate school, I was more like a nanny and made 10 an hour …. Big leap! What I can’t believe is how I would rotate through family beach trips in high school with the different families I babysat for, and I never got paid a dime! I worked for the sand and sun!!

  94. Deirdre says:

    Babysitting 15 hrs a week in the school year and 40 hrs in the summer but the going rate in the Chicago suburbs was nowhere near minimum wage in the late 80s. My first real job was at the local movie theater, where I also met my first boyfriend. I was a shy girl from a family of nine kids, so I grew up a lot in that job, learning to engage with people.
    My oldest son followed in my footsteps and got a job at Regal. Sadly he lost it when COVID-19 started, but now his younger brother is working there, and we love the benefit of free movie passes.
    My advice is to consciously decide who you want to be at work: on time, prepared? cheerful? You have a fresh slate and are forming your work identity.

  95. Congratulations on your first job! What a threshold experience! My first real job was as a cashier at McDonald’s and that was the start of a ten+ year career in the restaurant industry. It was a good experience but I did have nightmares about slipping a falling into the fry vat and I can still smell my uniform and visor. My advice is something a manager engrained in me early… “If you’re early you’re on time; if you’re on time you’re late, and if you’re late don’t bother showing up.” I am still 15 minutes early everywhere I go.

  96. My first job was technically a paper route when I was 11. Remember when they would let kids deliver newspapers? I had the smock style bag for papers. I usually walked, but then went and got my bike for the places that had dogs that chased me. My route was in my own neighborhood, so it was easy to do, and it was the afternoon paper (The Indianapolis News, which is no longer published). I moved on to babysitting later.

    My first “real” job was the community library. Of course. 🙂

  97. Mary Lou says:

    My first job was working in the general store at a local campground. I worked with a high school friend, and it was a great job (most of the time). My older daughter’s first job was working at another store at the same campground many years later. Younger daughter worked the welcome center at the same campground, but it wasn’t her first job. Her first was at an aquaculture facility. My fashion-loving ballerina daughter wore rubber boots every day and cleaned huge salt water tanks where baby clams and oysters were grown.

  98. I did a lot of babysitting and part-time reception for the construction company my dad managed but my first REAL teenage job was at Chick Fil A. I was a cashier and then I worked “board,” meaning I prepped the food some shifts and stood out front cooking it others. Also, I didn’t eat chicken (still don’t!) so I ate carrot raisin salad, waffle fries, and a slice of provolone cheese for my paid-for lunches.

  99. Courtney says:

    My first job was babysitting, but then I moved on to helping my single-mother-of-three’s side hustle, which was designing and putting up Christmas decorations in shopping malls, law offices, jewelry stores, and other corporate places. Eventually I got the uniform-and-name-tag job at a sandwich place, where I learned tolerance for touching food that I never would if I weren’t getting paid.

    Tip for a first job: start putting money in a Roth IRA!

  100. Gayle says:

    I don’t have advice per se, but when my older daughter got her first job as a waitress, I emphasized that it was a wonderful experience that will serve her well. Learning how to deal with the public is a life skill that translates to any job later in life. Good luck to your daughter! I am envious as I always wanted to work in a bakery!

  101. Wynne says:

    Congrats to your daughter on her first job! May she learn and grow in her role and confidence!
    When I was a sophomore in high school, my friend mentioned that her church youth choir was looking for a piano accompanist and she encouraged me to call the director. I’d been playing piano for about 3.5 years and had already decided I wanted to become a chorus teacher someday, and I was looking for a way to earn money to attend a church conference the following summer. It was a great fit for all of us. I continued to play for the choir throughout high school and intermittently on my breaks from college and grad school, and I resumed my role as regular accompanist when I moved back to the area to start my career as a chorus teacher. Last October marked 21 years since I first began playing for the choir and I consider this job to be one of the greatest blessings of my life. 🙂

  102. Aubrey says:

    I *thought* my first job was in sixth grade when I shelved books at the library and signed smaller kids up for the summer reading program–but my big brother disabused me of that notion, since it was “only” volunteer work.
    My first paid job was in high school, and I worked in the women’s shoe section of Macy’s. The working environment was terrible–long story short, I haven’t shopped at Macy’s ever since (almost 20 years now!) because of it.
    My most solid job through college was at Starbucks and it was honestly delightful! I loved going to work every day.

  103. Jennifer says:

    I started working when I was 11 years old. My parents said if I wanted a horse I had to save my own money for the horse. I babysat, tutored, then worked at an ice cream shop, then movie theater, waitressing, then at 16 started office jobs. I’m now almost 42 and I just realized I’ve been working 30 years now so I can retire right?!? (Also, by the time I saved up enough money for a horse my parents said, “you can’t ride your horse to high school right??” They knew all along lol)

  104. Jane says:

    My first job was at the local tax office. My mother had found me the job, they had advertised for people to shift old files from their storage rooms. I was not impressed by this idea but luckily on my first day the guy in charge looked at me and asked what I was studying? I replied I was studying education theory so he said well we have a vacancy for a clerk I think you’re more suited to that than shifting boxes!
    The work was very easy to do but there was a huge backlog which I managed to clear for them. They would phone each summer to see when I could work for them? It wasn’t glamorous but the people were nice to work with.

  105. Cheryl.nj says:

    My first real job was at McDonald’s. Back then, it was a very popular job for teenagers near me because The Crew was drawn from all the high schools around our county! We got a brand new social network for the last two years before college. Wahoo!!
    I hope your daughter will learn new skills and how to work responsibly, but I also hope she has a lot of FUN! You’re only a teenager once…

  106. Katie says:

    My first job as a teen was playing the organ at several local churches. Now that I have been on parental leave from my day job for more than three years, I’ve returned to playing the organ. It’s not a job you do for the money of course, as you only play once a week for an hour. But it’s still a great experience to serve your community and at the same time being able to try out new things, new music and pushing yourself a little bit out of your comfort zone.

  107. Aditi Taylor says:

    When I started a new office job, I was assigned to be the receptionist, which meant I was expected to enter first and unlock the building. I was given a key, and everything appeared to be in order. On the first day, I walk in alone and accidentally set off a security alarm. I hadn’t been given the code to disable it, so I was left to sit in the car park, freaking out, and wait for the manager to arrive and disable it for me. That was an excellent start!

  108. Ellen says:

    As many others have said, I babysat.

    Then when I was 18, the summer before starting college, I got a job working at an Einstein Bros Bagels. I was making $6/ hour and felt like I was making so much, compared to those babysitting wages!

  109. Krista Peterson says:

    My first and most hated job was babysitting like so many others have posted but since I had two younger sisters and babysat for them for free. Plus I hated driving home with the drunk dad in the mid-eighties. My next job was as a “soda jerk” and I loved it – essentially I scooped ice cream and made milk shakes.
    However, the two jobs I learned the most from was being a waitress and house painting. As a waitress you need to be a chameleon and figure out the dynamics of your party in three minutes. I painted houses with two older guys and they both worked two other jobs to make ends meet.

  110. Maria Poole says:

    Congratulations to your daughter…and oh to be that excited again!

    My first job was shelving and straightening the childrens picture book section at my local library. I was 13 and they paid me $6 a week. I loved every minute of it!

    Now 55, I look back on that time when things were slower and simpler and just smile.

  111. Sara says:

    If you count barely making any money as a camp counselor, then that was my first job! Otherwise I worked at a family music store that sold instruments, sheet music, and rented out band instruments at the beginning of every school year. I really enjoyed both!

  112. Colleen says:

    My first job where the government took its share was as the page at my local library. My town was only about 5000 people so our library was fairly small and I staffed the adult desk on my own every Tuesday & Thursday from 5-8 along with the first Saturday of the month. All of the other staff were so lovely and sweet to me – and it was our head librarian, Barb, who convinced me to start recording every book I read. So now, I have a record going back to when I was 16 of every book I’ve ever read in various book journals and now in a spreadsheet. If I had to evacuate the house quickly, the journals would be on the list to save.

  113. Christie W. says:

    I have to say that I had the BEST 1st job, no contest. I was raised in Nashville, TN and we had a theme park called Opryland (a country music homage to the Grand Ole Opry). It was your typical roller coaster-filled summer park where you could get doused by water on a ride and eat funnel cakes, and also hear live country/bluegrass around every corner.
    I was 14 and worked in an area called “Do Wah Ditty City” at the pizza parlor, along with a few of my besties from school. Our parents dropped us off in the morning, we changed into our uniforms (ours were like little roller-skating waitress dresses) and rode the “employee train” to our area. We worked 40 hours a week, rode roller coasters on our breaks, and had a TON of fun. They even closed down the park for employees only every week.
    I made the best memories, worked hard, laughed a lot, and made a LOT of money for a 14 yr old with no bills!

  114. Corinne Wurm says:

    I started babysitting at the age of 10. When I turned 16, I could finally make it official and I worked in a daycare at a health club. I had a t-shirt I had to wear with shorts or sweats or jeans. I was paid $6.10 an hour but I also got free membership at the gym. My best friend worked at the front desk so, if I didn’t have any guest’s children, I was able to go up and chat with her in between checking in members. My mom also worked there during the day, while I was there in the evenings and on weekends. The parents also hired me to work on the weekends and I became so popular that you had to book me months in advance if you wanted me on a Friday or Saturday night.

    I loved it.

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