What I learned about my first job

Remember your first job?

Did you enjoy it? Hate it? Think it totally sucked balls?

I remember mine.

I loved it. But, I also hated it.

My first job was fresh out of college. I’d been doing bank work there and when I graduated they offered to have me full time.

I remember how excited I was and back then as I wasn’t driving my dad was picking me up and I jumped in the car and told him the news. 

He was so happy for me! My mum was too. 

I accepted their offer, signed contracts worked out pay and all that and I became full time.

I was classed as a floater (haha I know), which meant I wasn’t based in any one room and helped out wherever I was needed. 

 But after just under a year of that, they asked me to be based in a room. Which tbh, I gratefully accepted, I wanted to have key children (children who I take notes on about their development and plan activities with them, being their buddy basically).

 I did this for a few weeks, and then the room leader at the time, who was also a one to one for a young boy with SEN (special educational needs- for those of you that don’t know) asked if I could take over for her being his one to one. 

Now this little boy was just the cutest little thing ever. I can still remember his smile and the way he giggled when tickled. 

I took over being his one on one, but also kept my key children, which was hard because I would come to discover that a lot of my key children only came in on certain days, and so did this little boy. So by being his one to one, I was neglecting to aid in their development by taking notes and planning activities for them.

My coworkers were great, and took notes and pictures for me. I was very appreciative of it. But it came to a head. By that I mean, there came a point that even with my coworkers help with taking notes or looking after my little boy for a day so I could spend some time with the other children, I was still behind. And no matter how I tried, I couldn’t catch up.

I got told by management to do it in my lunch break. If you read on to my next point about time you’ll understand why that was almost impossible. 

Besides. I wasn’t getting paid for my lunch break, so why should I work? If they want me to work through my lunch break, they should pay me no?

Seventeen year old me was too shy to say anything. But she also didn’t have time to work through her lunch break. So further and further behind she got.

I ended up having a meeting with the manager and my room leader and we decided that I couldn’t manage key children and this little boy. So I had to find who the other key children could go to.

It was hard.

This was lesson one for me.

Do not take on too much work. Do not make it impossible to do your job properly.

 If you cannot do your job properly because you have too much on your plate. Say something. I was too shy. I was fresh out of college, thought I could handle it and when I had that meeting, I broke. I realised just how hard it was to do the paperwork, watch the children, be a one to one, do parents evenings. 

I cried like a baby.

I’d never done it before and I had literally accepted for someone to throw me in with the sharks. Not in the deep end. No. I skipped the deep end and went straight to the Pacific Ocean. 🌊

The other thing that niggles me now, but that didn’t back then. Was time.

I would work at 10.5 hour shift, with a “half hour” lunch break. But more often than not, I would only get 10-15 minutes for break because they didn’t have enough staff, and other people needed to eat too, so we had to have short breaks. (We didn’t get paid for that half hour either, which is normal, but we still had to put down we had half hour break even if we hadn’t.)

In the summer, it wasn’t so bad, because I was taking cold meals to work. But in the winter it was harder. I was taking freezer meals which can take between 5-15 minutes to cook in a microwave. 
There just wasn’t the time. I remember a lot of times realising I simply didn’t have time to eat. And so I would go a whole 10.5 hours without eating, then come home starving and my parents wondering why.

I started picking at the leftovers from the children’s dinner.

How awful I felt. 

I would also be asked to come in on really short notice. There didn’t seem to be a reasonable time allowance for phoning in sick and a few times I’d be phoned at 6.30 and asked to be in for 7 in the morning. When I was still in bed.

There was no common courtesy, or no awareness that people actually needed sleep.

This brings me to my second lesson learned. 

Know how to say no.

If you are asked at 6.30 in the morning to be in for 7 that same morning, and it takes you 10 minutes to drive to work. You barely have time to get dressed, out a bit of concealer under your eyes so you don’t look like a zombie, scoff some food down. And then let’s not forget, I wasn’t driving back then so I’d have to wake a parent up to take me to work. 

Know how to say no.

“No, Leona, I’m sorry, but that isn’t feasible, I can be in for 7.30 if that helps you.”

That’s not hard is it? 

Well, for seventeen year old me it was. It was a quick brekky, concealer under the eyes, dressed, teeth brushed, wake up mum take me to work and there by 7am. Just. 

What are some lessons you have learned from your first job? Or second/third etc?

Anything you wish to share? (Please no names, I wouldn’t want anyone getting in trouble.)

Let me know in the comments!




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