Up until December of ’18, I was a Jack of all trades and a master of none. (After December of ’18, I became a master, but funnily enough, it was not in any of the fields I had actually worked before.) Have you seen Gilmore Girls? I was Kirk. Not that I actually identify with Kirk, but I had several jobs like Kirk. I even have a hard time remembering all the different work I’ve done. So, I thought I would log it and tell lessons I learned from each job.
It’s amazing what you can learn from a job. Learn about yourself, learn about Jesus, learn about people. I’ve had all sorts of experiences and I treasure each one as a new way to connect with Jesus and learn more about the two of us together.
A few times when I was a kid, I babysat. I was decent at it. Kids like me. But I hated it. I hated feeling trapped. I very much like playing with kids. I like hearing their stories and cultivating their imaginations. But tell me that I can’t leave any time I want and I don’t like doing it anymore. I don’t know why – that’s probably something I should explore more.
My first official job was delivering flowers and random chores (watering, pruning, moving flowers, etc) for the Greenhouse after school and on Saturday mornings. Grandpa taught me how to follow directions – on the road and in the greenhouse. I learned street structures and how a map works. I learned about hard work from Grandma. She had a list and she expected it all done well.
At Casey’s I worked in the kitchen. Here, I learned quite a few things about how a gas station kitchen works. But those aren’t the real take-aways. I learned what it means to take responsibility for your work. Your boss doesn’t care who taught you incorrectly. They only care that you’re doing it incorrectly.
Graebel Van Lines
Graebel Van Lines was a moving company. I worked there my first summer of undergrad. I was tired every day. I woke up early, got home late. I remember just falling into bed and sleeping until I had to get up the next day. But, I learned the proper way to pack a box. I learned how to package things so they don’t break. And I learned how heavy books can be.
In high school I started helping a middle schooler with their lessons. My first glimpse of the joy of seeing someone understand because of something you said. I could teach. And I liked it.
While in Florida for a summer, I worked at Bacardi in the quality control area. Mostly, I cleaned bottles. Then I emptied bottles with bad seals. Then I went back to cleaning bottles. I learned that even in a dead-beat job, you can find joy. And you can find Jesus.
I organized packages on the belt for the daily local trucks. Which means I worked from 3ish am to 7ish am. I was doing this job during my undergrad. I learned that cops are bored in the middle of the night and will pull you over for silly things. I learned that the more people like you, the better they treat you. I learned that a social life is sometimes more important than your current job. A life is more important than your job.
This time, I tutored on a university level. And I tutored language. I learned that the classic language teaching techniques aren’t for everyone. Sometimes, you need to use a doll to explain something.
I was the personal assistant for the Navigator’s Director. It turns out I am not a good personal assistant. To be a good personal assistant, you have to really understand what’s going on in the other person’s head. And you have to be able to think like them. You also have to know the company and know what’s important.
City Bus driver
The bus! I drove Safe Bus Blue. I had the longest route and I drove from 9pm to 2am. And I only had to clean up “accidents” on the bus twice in the whole semester I drove. I learned how to drive a bus. But I learned the importance of understanding both sides of a coin. I used to ride the bus and get so annoyed when the bus was late. And, “why does it take me an hour to get home?!” But after driving the bus, I started to realize that the bus was justified on many things that were happening. Not all. But that riders also weren’t justified on everything they were doing, either. Both sides. Very valuable.
Chapel Oaks Funeral Home
I mostly ran errands and ran up and down the hallway. Sometimes, I would sit in the office and answer phones if no one else was there. But mostly, I ran errands. I learned how to become aware of work that needs to be done and then do it. Often, I would go into the office, get my next task, and then do it. But along the way, I started paying attention to light bulbs that were out, air fresheners that needed to be replaced, carpet that needed vacuumed, etc. And I would just do the things.
Tony French Systems
I was an accountant. I balanced the books and paid people. Here, I learned what it means to own a business and pay others before you pay yourself. I learned what it means to pay people on time. But mostly, I learned that money isn’t something that people should hide from each other. It’s topic that shouldn’t be taboo, but discussed freely.
Cross-country travel. Behind the wheel. With 45 feet of steel behind me. I had fun at this job in the beginning. I went to fun places. I saw many Capital buildings. I had some fun people on my bus. But I also learned what it means to not be seen. I learned that work can be cruel and you weren’t made to do every job. Even if you’re an introvert, even if you’re shy, you still need people. And it hurts when no one sees you. See people.
I taught a family of brothers for 2 years. We had a great time. Art, science, State Bingo, language. They started behind but when we finished, they were 6 months ahead. I learned that caring for young men’s hearts is more important than making them sit still in a chair for hours and hours. I learned that it’s never too early to start teaching a boy the way of his heart. And, I learned how all four Presidents were assassinated. (We put on play productions for all four. So fun.)
Interior House painter
I painted every room except like 3 closets in a giant mansion. (She wouldn’t call it a mansion, but it’s huge.) Then, I painted the basement of the house across the way. Painting can be fun. But it can get old. But I learned that if you’re doing hard work for the right people, it doesn’t feel like work.
Data entry. Need I say more? I will. I made good money here and I was good at it. You can make good money just entering data into a system. But why? Why would you do it full time? Why wouldn’t you go out and do something your heart desires? Something you were created for? (Unless data entry is what your heart desires… then why would you do something like song writing?) The point is, you were created for something. Go find it.
I had a couple jobs at SIL-UND. I made the website. I created their logo. I worked on recruitment materials. I became the publicist. Then I T.A.’d for a summer. What I learned here: I can work from home, but I need interaction and I need accountability. I also learned that I’m more motivated when I’m feeling creative. This job had a lot to do with creativity. The One who created the world gives us his creativity, and it’s really nice to flex that creative muscle. But when you’re not feeling it, you’re probably not feeling God, either.
I did my own little side-hustle and wrote a book. And then I published it. It’s something I have always wanted to do and it was very rewarding to see something I created in print. What I learned, though, is to not ignore your dreams. They are probably dreams for a reason and they will flourish more than you thought possible.
After I graduated, I was a nanny for a few months. I learned a new type of patience. I learned that kids might not like your food even if you make the things you know they like. And I learned that adventure and being noticed is at the heart of humans. We see the best of them when we try to cultivate those longings.
Now, I work for DOOR. I have learned many things, but one thing really pounds home. I love Jesus. I love how Jesus works. I love how he puts desires in our hearts and then gives us 18+ other jobs before he gives us the one that hits that desire. I love how his heart hurts for the things your heart hurts for. I love that he made jobs out there for all the weirdos of the world. I love that he found the job that fit me in the perfect time and worked everything out for good. I love so many things about him.
Is there a job here you were surprised I had? Have you had any of my experiences? Let me know in the comments below!
3 thoughts on “Lessons from Working”
I love this! I also have had many and varied job experiences, it’s so fun to hear about someone else’s. That’s a really good idea to list them out and pull some highlights from each one. I might just do this sometime!
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I agree with Emily- this was a really good idea! I didn’t know how un-seen you felt driving the bus. That’s an important reflection. I haven’t had as many jobs as you, but it seems like it would be worthwhile to reflect on what I’ve learned in each one…
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