My First Job: A Bit of Background

When I was growing up I always was looking for ways to make money. I worked for myself by pet sitting, mowing lawns, and selling Magic: the Gathering cards to pay for my hobby. Unfortunately none of these were steady sources of income. The summer before my senior year in high school I decided I need to get a job to start saving money for college. I was a…

Pizza Man Extraordinaire

That’s right I worked at a nationally known pizza joint. How on earth did I decide that is where I wanted to work? Well… I didn’t want to work in fast food and I figured pizza takes a while. I’m serious that is how I decided. I don’t even really like pizza which in hind sight was a great thing. As a seventeen year old I clearly made highly educated decisions.

How Did I Land the Gig?

I had my dad get me an application on his way home from work. I didn’t even go in to get the application myself. Turns out these places probably don’t even know who gets applications so it wasn’t a big deal. I filled out the application and then dressed up in a dress shirt and dress pants and returned the application. Instead of being smart and giving it to a manager I just nervously handed it to the cashier and left… Great start.

After a week I hadn’t heard anything back so I decided to call and follow up. This time I got smart and asked for the general manager. They needed a phone person and he asked me to come in and interview. Again I dressed up in a dress shirt, dress pants and even a tie this time. I don’t remember the interview but my guess is it was basic questions to figure out if I would be reliable or not. I did enough to impress him and landed the gig.

So What Did I Do?

In the beginning I strictly answered the phone. “Thank you for calling *Pizza Place* Will this be for pick up or delivery?” As I got used to the phones I slowly picked up more positions. I was trained to be a cashier, pizza cutter, dough prepper, restaurant cleaner, host and server. The only things I didn’t do were deliver pizza (they never pulled my driving history) and cook (because the cooks were jerks).

I tried to learn as much as I could in a dead end job which was good for character building. I naively expected a raise based on my personal work ethic. I didn’t get a raise until they gave everyone a raise and even then it was due to hiring new people at a higher rate. In retrospect I shouldn’t have expected a raise for my own actions but at the time I felt like all of my efforts didn’t get me anywhere further than anyone else.

I have quite a few fun stories from working here. It was an absolutely crazy place to work and if my parents knew half of what went on there I probably wouldn’t have worked there as long as I did. I continued to work at the pizza place through the summer before my freshman year of college and then came back for the summer after my freshman year.

During my college sophomore year Christmas break I came home to work and found out the pizza place had been closed. I wasn’t shocked because as far as I knew the place was almost always losing money and it was very poorly managed. In the end it was a decent first job that taught me a lot of lessons. I’ll follow up with another post soon about some crazy stories and lessons I learned from my first job.

What was your first job? What do you remember about it?

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About Lance Cothern

Lance Cothern, a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) licensed in the Commonwealth of Virginia, is the founder of Money Manifesto. You can read more about him here or connect with him on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ or Pinterest.


  1. My first job was babysitting. It was fun until the mother became entangled in a custody battle. I stopped babysitting that child shortly after that but continued to baby sit others. Besides that, my first job was in fast food. It taught me to always be kind to people and that I really dislike to work at fast food places.

  2. I worked as a voice-data cable installer for my summer high school jobs. It was pretty tough manual labor but I was lucky that my dad had the “hook up” and I was able to make prevailing wages in the state of Missouri each summer (so I was making like $30/hour!). The hours were long and the job was relatively dangerous at some of the job sites I went (i.e. I had to stand ON TOP of a 12′ ladder with a 50 lb hammer drill and drill through brick). It was never fun when the drill kicked and tried to knock me off the ladder. Talk about working up a sweat (most of the buildings didn’t have A/C either as they were primarily new construction commercial buildings).

    I certainly don’t miss that work but it was fun to get those paychecks for awhile!

  3. That first realization that you won’t get a raise no matter how awesome of an employee you are sure does sting. I actually got raises along the way at my first job (family owned) so when I graduated and then got a real job and started kicking butt, I expected the raises to flow in. Big kick in the cajones when they didn’t. At least you got that lesson out of the way early 🙂

  4. I’ve only ever had 2 jobs (if you don’t include nannying). I worked as a sales associate and then eventually became the manager. WORST JOB EVER. Words cannot describe working in teenage clothing retail.

  5. It was the summer after graduation from high school. I was a door to door salesman. I was the youngest dealer in the U.S. at the time. I learned how to overcome shyness and learned many sales techniques. I worked on commission and saved my money to use as spending money in college. I learned a lot about managing my money that summer.

  6. My first job was an instructor for a hip-hop class for little girls. It was awesome teaching them dance routines and then putting on shows for their parents. I would bake the parents cookies when they came to watch the performance. Lol.

    My first “real” job was when I was 16. I sold cell phones and I was pretty awesome at it. I made a ton of commission for a high schooler… I think about $1,000 every 2 weeks, which is pretty good for a barely minimum wage job and not a lot of effort either.

    I’ve never worked in the food industry but I don’t think I could handle it.

  7. Ha, what a great first job! I was a bus boy and eventually became a server. That also was a pretty great job – a lot of mischief going on behind the scenes! Plus I ate so much good food!!

  8. My first job was as a sales associate at the popular shoe store, Nine West. One of my high school classmates recommended me for the job. Come to think of it, that’s how I landed my first internship when I was in college. It just goes to show the power of networking.

  9. My dad delivered pizza for a while. I think that’s a pretty good job because you get to go out and about and you get tips.

  10. I’ve learned a lot by working. Check out my post on my first 17 jobs

  11. Call Me What You Want Even Cheap says:

    My first job was delivering flyers door to door. I hated it, but I am glad my mom made me do it. It taught me discipline at an early age.

  12. My first job was at the Tastee Freeze. I was the guy who stocked the back room. I was maybe 13 years old (I think the laws have changed so you can’t work at 13 in the state I grew up in). No good stories there, BUT later I detassled corn, was a disc jockey, built radiation walls and worked at McDonalds. THOSE are the stories…..

  13. The first job I remember is a telemarketer. I sold water purifiers. I learned that I didn’t enjoy selling, but it did teach me some customer service and phone skills. We all needed to start somewhere, haha!

  14. First job was at McDonald’s for $3.25 an hour! Makes me appreciate everything I have now!


    • Definitely! I really do appreciate not working in food anymore. I do miss the bowling alleys I worked at sometimes though.

  15. I worked as a camp counsellor for a kids day camp at the local commmunity centre. It was one of the hardest jobs I had. Imagine looking after 15-20 kids all by yourself for almost 8 hrs a day. Some of them were a real handful and some came from not so great families. I often came home exhausted and with a I don’t know how teachers do it. No wonder they need the summers off!

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