Whatever your very first job is, it can serve as a launching pad to any career path — even ones that seem unrelated — thanks to such soft skills as communication, team work and learning social cues that you can acquire as you work. Here’s how to identify and apply these skills.
First job: McDonald’s cashier and cook
Soft skill: Teamwork
Take-away tip: No matter what job you have now and what you end up doing, remember that how you interact with people you work with is the most important thing.
First job: Working at a beauty counter
Soft skill: defusing angry customers
Take-away tip: When I disagree with someone, I find the commonality we agree on to disarm them. Telling someone they are right to feel a certain way takes them off the defense. When you take a genuine interest, people open up and want to do business with you.
First job: door-to-door sales
Soft skill: storytelling
Takeaway tip: Keep track of your successes as you move through your career. Getting a job is telling a story. Keep track of all your great stories and make sure you can retell them in an interesting way for the next job interview.
First job: Fast food cashier
Soft skill: reading people
Take-away tip: Working in p.r., you meet new people every day. It’s become easier to spot who has had a bad day or who simply just needs to be listened to. As simple as it seems, being nice to people goes a long way.
First job: office assistant at a doctor’s office
Soft skill: multitasking and problem solving
Take-away tip: Treat every job like it’s a job. Even if it isn’t what you want to do for the rest of your life, take it seriously. Learn and absorb and listen a lot.
First job: tutor
Soft skill: communication and accepting criticism
Take-away tip: I speak with and treat patients who are sensitive and wary about very personal things. Having superior communication skills is a must. Without being able to explain the procedure, pre-op and post-op instructions, risks and more, my training as a plastic surgeon would be fruitless.
First job: US Navy
Soft skill: time management and problem solving
Take-away tip: This taught me to look for different solutions, that sometimes you have to think outside the box. In p.r., we always have to find an interesting angle to pitch our story. I’ve learned to find new details that are interesting and turn that into a new pitch.
First job: telemarketer
Soft skill: grit
Take-away tip: What sets you apart is your ability to listen to what your potential customer is telling you and persuasively communicate how you think you can help them . The common denominator among successful people is that they use failure as an opportunity to improve.