Are You a Job Snob?

I told my son in May to go to the mall and not come home until he’d filled out 20 job applications. He came home that night, elated that he had an interview scheduled at Subway the following day. Three days later he landed the job. You would think I’d be thrilled, right? Not so much, because the mom and the career coach in me were at odds. The mom in me was thrilled my son landed his first job. The career coach fretted about my computer engineering son, with his mad computer skills, becoming a Sandwich Artist.Hamburger with ingredient.

Job Snob, that was me.

Two months later, I now realize I fretted for nothing.  In fact, I am giddy over his transformation. Here are skills he picked up:

1)      Leadership & initiative:

  • On his own, he took initiative and asked his boss if he’d like him to stay late and close for him. He has done this several times now.
  • When a fellow co-worker felt too scared to make sandwiches after her fourth day on the job, he gently coaxed her into making her first sandwich, and now she’s off and running.

2)      Curiosity & outer-directedness:

  • He asks more questions now, when he’s around people. He no longer has to be coaxed into talking. He asks my husband about his clients, and he volunteers information about his day, which he never used to do.

3)      Confidence:

  • When I asked what he learned from working at Subway, he said, “I feel better about going to look for another job now.” This fall when he returns to college, he feels much more confident about finding a campus job.
  • Early on at Subway, he said customers blew up at him about  confusion over Groupons, and he asked his boss to handle it. This week, a customer yelled at him because she failed to see him change his gloves. He acted differently this time:  “When someone blows up at you mistakenly, you speak with authority and act like you know what you’re doing.” What a shift!

4)      Being a good boss:

  • Luc has a great boss,  which will bode well for every person Luc ever manages for the rest of his life. During a recent lunch rush, Luc burned his hand. His boss left to go to a pharmacy to get him burn cream. (Luc told me I have to mention this story if I write about his experience. He is eternally grateful for his boss’s kindness that day).  His boss taught Luc the importance of being human first.

My son’s experience at Subway taught me two vital things: One, we can’t afford to be snobs about the work our kids choose. Jobs that seem irrelevant can actually be stepping stones to better jobs, and provide us clarity. Speaking for myself, I have put on a Big Bird costume for 8 hours in 100 degree weather, been a short-order cook, a dishwasher, a baker, and a cocktail waitress. All these jobs helped me develop and hone  my career identity. The beauty of jobs we don’t love is all the information they give, even if it’s, I’ll never do that again. From the jobs I’ll never do again, I learned the value of grit and hard-work, which serves me as I build my consulting business today.

Here’s another reason not to be a job snob: They can be a stepping stone to an unexpected opportunity. A friend told me that while he was in between jobs, he took a part-time job in IT support, even though it wasn’t in his sweet spot at all and he didn’t know much about IT. Several months later a full time opportunity came along that WAS in his sweet spot, and they told him, the reason we hired you was because of your IT experience.

Engagement with the world pulls us forward in our development. And in this development we discover that it’s about so much more than making sandwiches.

image: © /poznyakov

Thanks to my brother Bruce Bondy who gave me the idea to send Luc to the mall and not come back until he filled out 20 applications. 



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