What My First Job Taught Me

Career, Leadership, Precision Insights, Recruitment

Any real football fan will remember their first game/ first job. What was yours?

I bet you can recall how you felt, the smell, some of the action, the grown men screaming like spoilt children or the tribal feel of violence that hangs in the air at some games. (Well especially in England -where the beautiful game was invented). But, do you remember your first job?
Mine was Sunderland v Spurs at the old Roker Park back in November 1984.
My 7 year old son is obsessed with football and I am taking him to the UK in April 2018 to see his first game. (I don’t want his first game to be in Australia as it may put him off the game forever). We are lucky enough to be seeing Man City v Man Utd.
Anyway it got me thinking about my first ever job and what it taught me about work and career.
My very first job was when I was 14 and it was a Saturday morning job for a local swiss bakery chain in Sunderland where I am from. My job was to clean the bakery after the bakers had done their great work. Now that may not seem like a bad deal but a 5am start meant a 4:30am rise before my 15 minute bike ride to work.
So looking back what did this short lived Saturday morning job teach me about life and career?


1) Work is work. It isn’t meant to be easy. It is called work for a reason.

I would leave the bakery at 1pm, dead on my feet and ravenous from my 8 hour shift. If work was meant to be easy wouldn’t it be called easy instead?

2) Efficiency in process leads to more margin or profit.

One of my tasks after cleaning was to fill bins. (Proper bins you see on the streets back in the day). I had to fill them with eggs that I would crack and empty until the bins were full. I cracked hundreds of eggs and scraped the shells (every drop counts remember). When I started the task, I was prompted several times to scrape each side of the cracked egg shell thoroughly. Across hundreds of eggs the scraped egg whites added up to a significant amount.

3) Dress appropriately

I turned up thinking I was the 6th member of Take That. My curtains were soon tied back and my leather friendship bands cut off for hygiene reasons.
TAKE THAT - 1992

Photo by REX/Shutterstock (206935g)


4) Eat an adequate meal before and during work + get plenty of rest

I earned 1 GBP per hour. That equated to 8 GBP for the whole day! That 8 GBP was mostly spent on sausage rolls, pies, pastries and drinks as I left the front door of the bakery starving from my shift.
I recall taking my then girlfriend to the cinema to see Terminator 2 one Saturday night. I was sleeping before the movie even started.
 egg cracking

5) Do something you enjoy and you will never work a day in your life they say. I soon realised that I 100% didn’t want to work in a bakery for the rest of my life.

The people I worked alongside wouldn’t chat, they were head down and working hard. I don’t recall names or even conversations as the culture was head down and work. I didn’t see many smiles or people happy to be at work. My only conversations were when asking for help.

6) Always keep your eyes open for that next opportunity and progression

My Mum worked in a florist. Over the road was another local bakery chain that mentioned to my Mum that they were looking for someone to clean the bakery on Saturday mornings.
I filled that job and managed to get a 15 pence per hour pay rise and a discount on my grub!

What was your first ever job and what did it teach you about career and life?