My Career So Far: The Best Lesson From Each Position
Every job is different and requires a unique set of skills to perform well. Even the same position within the same company might require different skillsets when working at different locations or with different clients. Throw that position into a different country and you might require different procedures due to cultural differences. Add to this the fact that each person will tackle the same problems differently, meaning different people in the same position might find different ways to use their skillsets to excel at their work in their own unique way.
Essentially, what this all means is that each person will gain different skills and benefits from the same jobs depending on what skills they came with into the job. In this article, I will have a look at what I believe is the most important lesson or skill I learned while occupying each of my positions, in the hopes that it can give you some insight into what your own jobs taught you.
McDonald’s (2 years) – Kitchen Staff – Multitasking
Anyone who has worked in fast food will understand the hectic, fast-paced environment associated with the high-demand and high-pressure chains. Each restaurant features its own experience as an employee, but there will be one thing that will usually remain the same between restaurants: the need to multitask and manage your time effectively. As part of the kitchen crew, I would constantly have to manage multiple orders or handle multiple tasks at the same time. Sometimes I would have to manage assembling the food, cooking food on the grill, cooking food in the fryer, restocking low ingredients, managing food expiration times, and potentially even more. Sometimes it can get overwhelming, but having to perform all of these tasks in a high-pressure environment teaches you very quickly how to manage them, because otherwise you would fall behind very fast. It’s something that I carry with me to this day in my day-to-day life. I am very thankful for my ability to multitask, and will largely thank my very first position for the bulk of that initial skill development.
Charm Diamond Centres (3 years) – Sales Associate – Social Interaction
Prior to working with Charm, I had a much more difficult time interacting with people in general, and I never really had much occasion to talk to people that I wasn’t necessarily seeking out. I usually felt quite comfortable keeping to myself or my tight circle of friends or just be off somewhere reading a good book. While this is okay, I tended to prefer introversion to social interaction when given the choice, and I didn’t really have the social skills I wanted to have. I initially struggled to put myself out there and didn’t really force myself into these types of situations. I was very fortunate that when I joined the Charm team, I had some excellent teachers and colleagues who allowed me to grow and develop as a person and salesperson. As someone who loves jewellery and talking about diamonds and gemstones of all kinds, it made it very easy to talk with clients and a lot of fun to help them find their dream pieces. I would speak to a wide variety of people on a daily basis, allowing me to gain some very valuable social skills. I have spoken on this particular subject at greater length in one of my other articles, Why Retail And Sales Jobs Make For Valuable Experience.
Maison Birks (1 year) – Sales Professional – Attention To Detail
Another wonderful sales opportunity, I felt extremely fortunate to work for a company like Maison Birks. As the oldest Canadian jeweller at 142 years old, Birks felt like the ultimate destination in the jewellery world as an employer to work, and I immediately felt a bit of shell shock in terms of the leap in luxury and standards from my previous experience. I was quickly and suddenly aware of all of the minute details that go into setting up the jewellery, ensuring the store was clean, the simple flourishes and touches that go into their presentations, and many other little details that gave the store a consistent high-class feel. There was a definite sense of decorum that was involved with each sales presentation and how you presented yourself within the store. Of course, you have to have attention to detail while working in a jewellery store as a simple matter of security, a skill I carried over from working at Charm, but the level of detail involved at Birks was that one step higher. I have been very thankful for that extra skill, as I have found it to be very useful in all parts of my life, and just being aware of the little things around me. It’s incredible just how much you miss when you aren’t paying attention!
BreezeMaxWeb (3 months) – Content Writer – Research
As someone who loves to write and read, work as a content writer felt like a perfectly natural fit. I had a wide variety of subjects to write about in blog and content lengths that varied depending on the package the client signed up for. While I had the opportunity to choose among the different topics to write about, I would consistently be writing blogs I would never have written on my own. The blogs I would write would be largely for informational purposes and would span topics like understanding when to change the filter on HVAC systems, how to landscape your home, whether wax or ceramic finish is better to protect your car’s paint, and many more. Some people might look at these topics and find them boring to write, but I found it fascinating and interesting to learn about different topics that might help me later in life to build a home or discovering a useful tip or tool that will help me do something better or more efficiently. Additionally, because these were topics that I did not immediately know how to write about, I had to do an appropriate amount of research to understand my topic and write it well. The research skills I learned were very valuable in this position, but they became even more important when they carried over into the next position after that…
BreezeMaxWeb (5 months) – Quality Control Supervisor – Management
Shortly after joining BreezeMaxWeb, I was promoted to Quality Control Supervisor within the company, which involved ensuring each of the company’s services were up to an appropriate level of quality for dissemination to the clients. These included blogs, websites, and various types of digital marketing and advertisements like Google ads, Social Media ads, email blasts, text messages, and more. Ensuring each client was receiving the quality of service they expected from us occasionally required researching the clients themselves, fact-checking and conferencing with the clients themselves if necessary. More importantly, this was my first second-level position, giving me some managerial status among many of the departments within the organization. Organizing the deliverables between the departments, ensuring they are on time and of sufficient quality, and ensuring each department has all the information they need to complete their projects were but a few of the roles I had to take on to allow sometimes upwards of fifteen simultaneous clients were all happy with what they received. Although it was just five months of work, I learned a lot in that time, and I feel very fortunate to have had the opportunity to manage a great group of people.
Canada Revenue Agency (Ongoing) – IT Infrastructure Support Analyst – Critical Thinking
My last and current position involves assisting people with IT issues. Although I am still only a few months into employment with CRA, one thing definitely stands out above the rest: critical thinking skills. As an IT analyst, there are a number of issues that clients would be asking about, but there would also be a number of unique cases that require using multiple articles of documentation and synthesize information to come to a conclusion. Understanding which pieces are relevant and how different pieces fit together to arrive at your solution is not always obvious, requiring quick and critical thinking with clients waiting on your answer in a reasonable amount of time. It’s certainly challenging, but a great opportunity to grow and learn, something I am always looking for in my work.
Every workplace has its perks and quirks, and will almost always teach you something new. Think about some of your own jobs. What are some of the things you learned?Follow: