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From confidence to DIY skills: lessons learned from first jobs

From tennis coach to apprentice train conductor, from babysitting to working in an ice cream shop – the people we’ve interviewed for our 60 Second Interview series have done some pretty interesting things for their first job. One person even cleaned fish tanks in a zebrafish research facility.

But no matter what their first job was, they all learned some valuable lessons. So if you’re thinking ‘how can I get my first job’, here’s your guide to how a range of different young professionals got their first ever role, and what they learned there.

“I developed my confidence with the general public”

Getting your first job can do wonders for your confidence – which is an important quality to build for the future (by the way, here are a few tips and tricks to help make you feel more confident at work).

Accountancy team manager Sophie worked part-time at a clothing shop for her first job. She told us: “I was able to get my first job got the job through a friend of my dad’s. The main thing I gained from the role was an increase in my confidence; I often dealt with customers who were usually a lot older than me.”

Emma, (pictured above) who is now a junior fashion designer, worked in a balloon shop for her first job. Again, working with customers helped her feel more confident. “I was in a customer facing role as part of my employment there where I developed my confidence with the general public and also learnt more about the retail industry.”

“I appreciated the opportunity of university” 


First jobs – especially the part-time gigs you do while you’re also at school – let you see what it’s like to earn your own money, and make you appreciate the opportunities you’ll get in the future.

My first job was waitressing in a local cafe when I was 16,” YouTube entrepreneur Jennifer told us.  On my gap year I waitressed for six months to make sure that I appreciated the opportunity of university.”

“I gained a greater understanding of people’s needs”

Any good first job will teach you a range of people skills – which are in demand with employers.

My first job was a care assistant in a residential home,” said Kellie, who has now worked her way up to general manager at a care home. “During this time I helped residents with their personal care, toileting, and assisted them during meal times. I would also accompany them to hospital appointments and visits.”

“I learned a lot in that job; one of the main things was empathy. I gained a greater understanding of people’s needs, how to talk to the older generation, but most importantly how to listen and learn from other people’s experiences.”

“I realised I could join any industry”

Getting your first job teaches you that you can join a Career Zone that’s new to you and work your way up, learning and developing skills along the way.

Joanne is now a marketing manager in the fast-changing cryptocurrency field. She told us: “My first job was as a medical counter assistant at a local pharmacy. When I joined I knew nothing about pharmacy jobs and had very little customer service experience. It was a fun, interesting first job which helped me to see that I could join any industry, even if I didn’t know anything about it, and learn as I go.”

“I developed my communication skills”


Being able to get your point across clearly and persuasively is one of the skills employers really want you to have.

“When I was doing my A-Levels at college, I also worked part time as a waitress in a family pub/restaurant,” says content executive Jessica. “Looking back, this job gave me a huge boost in confidence and allowed me to develop my communication skills which are crucial for the job role I’m in today.”

“Everyone should do a customer services job at some point!”

Many people’s first jobs were where they first encountered customers – and learned key customer service skills. “My first job was working in retail at a sports shop selling things like trainers and football shirts,” said Chris, who now works in compliance. It was a job I got after a week of work experience arranged by my school when I was 15, and something I enjoyed enough to want to spend my Saturdays there.”

“My day was mainly serving customers and helping in the stock room with deliveries etc. which I enjoyed, though I hated it when they made me clean the shop windows in the morning. I once sold a pair of boots to former England striker Emile Heskey back when he was a youth player at Leicester City.  I think everyone should be do a customer services job at some point so you can see what it’s like to be on the receiving end of rude customers!”

“I learned I was not designed for manual labour!”

Sometimes first jobs are a great way to figure out what’s not right for you. “My first job was helping my step dad prepare and fit double glazing for pocket money on the weekends,” said financial advisor Joe. “I quickly learned that I was not designed for manual labour, coming home absolutely knackered each time we went out!

“Once I turned sixteen, I got an evening and weekend job working on the checkouts in a DIY store. It was an enjoyable job that I kept for a few years throughout university and the DIY knowledge I picked up remains useful to this day.”

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