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Why You Should Treasure Your Holiday Job (Seriously)

I got my first job when I was 13, helping little kids learn to read.

I was paid an impressive £2.25 per hour, maybe £50 each month, which was enough to fund a few new clothes from Tammy and some Collection 2000 makeup.

Most of us look back on our first jobs with a grateful sigh that we’ve moved on, but with hindsight I’ve come to realise that when you scratch below the surface there’s a wealth of things that have passed by unnoticed. As I worked my way through retail, bar jobs, and admin work, I grew from a clueless teen to a more confident and resourceful person.

Here are a few reasons why you should treasure those holiday jobs as more than a little bit of money and a few new friends:

You learn to deal with rejection

A lot of holiday jobs involve some selling, which is a daunting realm to dive head first into. Whether your manager wanted you to add on some extras to a meal or you had store card targets to hit, it could be difficult to push people into spending a little extra, especially if your heart wasn’t in it. Even worse was facing a constant stream of “no thanks” or just being outright ignored. As time goes on and you start to grow a thicker skin, it becomes so much easier to take those rejections on the chin and learn from them. It’s a great setup to apply for graduate jobs, apprenticeships, or further education in the future, when the risk of rejection means an awful lot more.

You learn how to handle difficult people

As a chronic people pleaser, it took me a while to be able to speak up when people weren’t being so nice. When you’re young it can feel like every adult is an authority figure and you don’t have a right to disagree with them. As you begin to get used to complaints and furious Christmas shoppers, it starts to get easier; you can put people into context and not take their anger so personally. For me, realising that adults weren’t necessarily always right was a revolution, and led me to learn my worth as a shy 16-year-old.

You learn the value of money

It’s nice to look back on your teenage years and think about the things that were so important to you at the time, the things you would spend your hard-earned money on: McDonald’s milkshakes, cheap makeup, ear piercings and the cinema were regular splurges, but on a tiny part-time wage you had to start being clever with the way you spent money. Being exposed to how much things actually cost against the amount you earn is a great lesson in budgeting and managing your money, because when a £10 note runs out, it’s out. Saving enough for the bus fare home or saving over time to buy something special was a perfect starter in the beauty of a wishlist. Plus, it’s much less of a culture shock when you come to leave the comforts of home to fend for yourself.

You learn life admin skills

It may be one of the more boring things, but life admin like taxes and money or cleaning and housework are the things that you won’t be motivated to learn anywhere else. At least in a job you just have to get on with it, no excuses. Although you may not enjoy it, you’ll pick up some useful little tricks along the way too which can stay with you for life.

You learn what you might actually want to do

Holiday jobs give you some amazing exposure to the working world. Whether you loved or hated where you worked, it will have swayed you towards doing what you actually want to do. You can pick out all the aspects of the role that you liked, whether it be putting up displays or mopping the floors, and use them to guide you towards something that you’ll love. You can also take away all the parts you hated and know what you need to avoid in the future. Those opportunities are like a test run and can give you more ideas about what to look for in a career in the long term.

So don’t reject your early work with a slight cringe. You will have learned a lot more than you think, and those lessons may just help you get where you want to go.

Written by:

Katie Hopkins lives amongst piles of books and pug memorabilia. As a copy-editor and freelance writer, she is always immersed in words, and is captivated by the world of careers and the pursuit of happiness, alongside a little fascination with true crime. She tweets as @katie_louh.

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