Wednesday, 4 July 2018

What I Learnt In My First Job

I started working in a local McDonald's restaurant this February, a month before I turned 17. I worked fairly consistently throughout my first handful of shifts and I liked knowing that I was doing something which I was going to benefit from in the long run. However, I didn't request to be scheduled in for any shifts during March, because I didn't feel I had the time or the energy. Everything was quite intense and I felt that working on top of that would just finish me off entirely. I was back at it all throughout April, May and for the majority of June too. Now, at the end of June, as I write this post, I don't believe that sticking at my crew member job would be the right decision for me anymore. I have come to the pretty tough decision to hand in my notice and go on the search for a new job, despite only lasting in my first one for a mere amount of months. As a way of reflecting on what I've learnt in my first job out in the real world, I thought I'd write this post today...

1. Some people just aren't on the same wavelength as you. I had this idea that starting a proper adult job would lead to me being surrounded by open-minded, empowering, motivational individuals. The truth is, it hasn't been like that at all - not even in the slightest. I feel that I've been in quite a toxic environment with people that quite often just shout and swear and rant and rave. I don't have an issue with the environment being busy, as any job is typically fast-paced, but when the people around me can't keep their cool, it does start to have an effect on my mood, my attitude and my performance.

2. Your mental health should be more important than the money you make - always. I've absolutely loved being able to earn my own money. It's great not having to rely on your mum to pay for your workout gear or for the birthday presents that you want to buy your friends. It makes you feel that extra bit more put together and you know you have grinded hard for when payday rolls around. Having said that, I've really realised that my mental health should always come before my income. Yes, I need money to survive and to be able to treat myself every once in a while, but it isn't the end of the world if I have to go a few months being a little more stingy than usual (and that's coming from a girl who is naturally fairly stingy!). Sometimes, I take on too much and maybe this is my time to take a step back and reevaluate things from every aspect of my life.

3. A resilient mindset and a tough exterior is absolutely key. As much as you may not want to face up to the facts, you will get beaten down many times, particularly if you work in a customer facing role. You will get harsh managers, harsh crew members, harsh customers and complaints during almost every shift you are on. You will almost break the milkshake machine and end up with gloopy, sticky strawberry shake mix all over the floor and your clean trousers, you will forget your common sense on how to make a cup of tea with a tea bag, you will step on sauces and end up squirting them all up the wall beside you and you will even get shouted at 99% of the time for doing the right thing! Not once have I answered back or lost my sh*t and I like to think I've appeared quite patient for the most part, even when deep down, I've lost the will to live a thousand times in the space of an hour!

4. I'd rather be intellectually stimulated than left to stand at a window or on a drinks machine for 5-8 hours. Being my first job, I didn't really know what to expect in regard to the whole interview/training process. At this particular store that I worked at, I didn't get a proper interview, I didn't have any training whatsoever, I didn't really get any positive feedback ever and I just generally wasn't stimulated at all. Although I said I wanted to remain on the drive-thru, as I didn't feel confident at the time doing anything else, I knew in my heart that I only said that, because I wouldn't get sufficient training and people wouldn't have the patience with me anyway! I want more than to just be the human version of a robot, because I don't believe I was actually adding or gaining anything of particular value.

5. Although there are many negatives, there will be some positives too! You may not recognise it until you look back in hindsight, but now I've realised that I am worth so much more than how I felt when I was working at McDonalds. I felt miserable, I usually would dread going into work and I'd cry, knowing that there was hardly anyone that I genuinely felt a connection with. I did try my best and I do actually think that I have decent customer service skills, no matter what some of my managers may have thought. I did meet some kind-hearted people, who would do what they could to help me and I know that in terms of my personality, the people there did think I was kind-hearted and innocent.

I'm quite disappointed that my experience hasn't exactly been plain-sailing, as I didn't intend for it to be quite this distressing, but that's the way life goes and I've learnt some valuable experience with me, which I shall take onto my next job. For now, it's on to a new adventure and a less toxic journey!

What did you learn from your first job? Are you in the same one or have you since changed?

Lots of love always,


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