A new year marks a time of reflection — to reminisce about that beautiful, or dreaded, and otherwise memorable first job during high school.
While New York is known as the town with 8 million stories, District residents proved they, too, can spin quite the tale when it comes to recounting their first taste of employment way back when.
“My worst job I had was during college when working in a neighborhood grocery store as a courtesy clerk with the hopes of becoming a cashier,” said Camille Davis, who’s now an education entrepreneur and part-time research assistant in northwest D.C. “The courtesy clerk responsibilities are to retrieve and organize shopping carts, assist with the checkout process, maintain the cleanliness of the store.
“What was awful about having this position was the restrooms are included in the cleanliness of the store,” Davis said. “One day, which was my last day on the job, I was called to clean the restroom, and it took a lot of humbling for me to maintain the restrooms. I never held a position before that required me to clean toilets.”
Alexandria, Virginia-based Dan Sondhelm, the CEO of Sondhelm Partners, recalled his first job working in a shoe store while in high school.
“I was learning about the shoe trade, how to work with a boss and how to engage with customers,” Sondhelm said. “Once, I tried to take initiative to better organize the shoe stock by size instead of brand. When the boss came back from lunch, I was quickly fired.”
Jessica Randhawa worked at Kohl’s Department Store as a sales associate during school breaks and summer vacation while she was in high school.
”My dad was one of the store managers, which meant he would always put me on his schedule,” said Randhawa, who earned a bachelor’s degree in molecular biology and is now the owner of TheForkedSpoon.com, where folks can browse all kinds of food recipes.
Here are other first/worst job stories:
— “When I was about 16, I seriously contemplated becoming a veterinarian,” said Melanie Hartmann, owner and CEO of Creo Home Solutions, a company that buys and flips houses in Baltimore. “I remember walking past a job posting and seeing an opportunity to work in a veterinarian’s office. I was excited; it was a solid first job. This was, of course, before I realized that the college-level science and math classes required for the degree were not for me.”
— Dr. Christine Silvers said her first job while in high school was cleaning hotel rooms.
Silvers started at age 15, after being turned down for a job at McDonald’s because the minimum age there was 16.
“Cleaning bedpans was seriously gross, but I was determined to earn every extra penny I could,” Silvers said. “My immigrant parents were in the lower-middle class, meaning we didn’t comfortably have enough for private college tuition, yet also didn’t qualify for full financial assistance.
Silvers currently serves as executive director of Clinical Informatics, a digital health company.
— Kuri Khailo Diaz, a digital marketing supervisor, got her first job at Six Flags while she was in high school.
“It was the worst job out there,” Diaz exclaimed. “I give props to the people working there now. I was part of the art department, so I did face paint. The worst part was standing for eight hours, and if they caught you sitting, they’d give you a warning. Too many of those and you’re fired. The good thing about it was free rides for you and your friends, but I couldn’t deal with that anymore.”
— “My first job was a server at a major pizza chain,” said Tara Woods, vice president of an insurance company. “I was nervous that I would make a mistake, and one day, it happened. I was serving pizza off of a pizza board to a very well-dressed couple. I accidentally let the steaming hot pizza slip off of the board directly onto the woman’s shoes. She screamed at me because the shoes were a very expensive gift from her husband. I was mortified.”