My daughter just got what I call her first “adult job.” I define that as the full-time job that takes what she has learned so far and applies it to what may lead to a fulfilling career. While talking with her about it, I realized how important those high school and college jobs in food service and retail were, in giving her the foundation to succeed. They were not necessarily pleasant or fun, but they taught her some valuable lessons that will support her success in the long run.

A Solid Work Ethic

I am proud to say that my daughter has a great work ethic! She demonstrated this in her part-time, minimum wage jobs by showing up on time for all her shifts, working hard while on them, paying attention and noticing what needed to be done. She won recognition for working hard and doing quality work. I would like to think that as a parent I had a hand in this, but it is she who decided it was important to her.   In addition, the repercussions of working with others who do NOT share this work ethic were clear. She often had to take up the slack because people did not show up or did their work poorly. I’ve told her that as a hiring manager myself, her work ethic is a key value that will serve her well in the future.

Customer Service

This is such an important skill for everyone, whether they interact with customers regularly or not, because coworkers and bosses are also customers of our work. In her retail and food service jobs she learned how to work with cranky customers, pleasant customers, rude customers, overly-friendly customers, and demanding customers. Sometimes she had to “fake it,” as she would say, to be nice to a difficult customer on those days when she felt stressed or fed up. That ability to do so, is what I call a skill. Hurrah for her!

Technical Skills

Okay, so this is one area that her part-time jobs did not provide, as she did not want to work in either food service or retail — but that’s what technical education, college, and job training provide. So here we are two months in, and she is enjoying her new job, and learning new skills. And the key word there is learning — being willing to be vulnerable and learning new things. This will become more and more important as she grows in knowledge and ability, to avoid being cemented into one way of doing things. The real skill is realizing that you can learn and apply, and that as technology and processes change, so can you.

I am extremely proud of my daughter’s work ethic, customer service skills, and her growing confidence in her ability to learn and apply.   I can rest easier as a parent, knowing that these will serve her well for the rest of her life!

Cathy Perme is the co-owner of Perme & Peterson Associates, LLC.

Fizz by Cathy Perme

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Catherine Perme

Fizz! How to Succeed as an Independent Consultant author Cathy Perme also wrote Confucius in My Cubicle: Practical Wisdom for the Leader in All of Us, released by Wisdom Editions.