I recently joined the team at When I Work, as a Sales Intern; Before that I was working as a Solutions Specialist (sales rep) at Verizon Wireless. I was at Verizon for about a year and was making some pretty good money as a college student. I had a lot of fun, learned a bunch, and made some awesome friends.
…But something didn’t feel right. I wasn’t focusing on what mattered most to me or what would benefit me the most. I knew it was time to get out and that’s why I made the jump to finally work for a startup. I have been at When I Work for over a month now! I can now look back at my time at Verizon and share the stuff I’ve learned that I believe will benefit me the most in my startup career and life.
I worked at the Bloomington Verizon location which is a very elderly community. Many of our customers would come in with basic questions on how to operate devices and they would need more assistance than the typical individual. Many would also get upset when they couldn’t figure things out.
As you can imagine, having grown up in the 21st century, technology comes very easy to me but many of our customers weren’t used to this technology and it was many peoples’ first phone. So, learning to take my time with customers and really show them how to understand the product made their lives easier. I treated every customer as if they were my grandparents (because I know my grandparents struggle with technology as well). I’ll be honest that sometimes it got frustrating but, by learning to be patient, I was able to acquire a happy attitude.
2.) Dealing with chaos
Working in retail can get very busy, especially the holiday season, but at Verizon (at least at our location) it was always busy. It wasn’t rare to have hour long waits at our location. With waiting times being so long, pressure to hit quotas and keep wait times low while simultaneously providing a great experience for our customers was usually chaotic. At the store we really learned how to deal with stress. I came into Verizon during the busiest time and it was overwhelming how stressful it was at first. At Starbucks (where I worked before Verizon) it was always crazy busy and we had to make sure we gave a every customer a great experience, while being able to move fast.
Working these jobs really taught me a lot about the “move fast, break things” motto in startups. Although it’s a totally different field, I can say that if you truly learn to deal with the chaos it’ll benefit your life (as life is one crazy ride).
3.) Work ethic and the value of a dollar
This lesson is my favorite and it’s something that I’ll go more in depth about in another blog post.
At every job I’ve had, I had to learn the value of strong work ethic. The hourly jobs that I’ve held had such high turnover because they’re not the most glamorous jobs. With the exception of Verizon, these jobs didn’t pay well and they were very stressful. I was doing work that I really didn’t enjoy and definitely didn’t want to do for a lifetime. But the fact was that I was using these jobs as a stepping stone to move on to other careers that I enjoy.
One motivating factor for me to join a startup was to get out of retail. If I weren’t motivated I wouldn’t have hustled my way into When I Work and I likely wouldn’t have pushed myself to acquire all the skills I’ve learned in the past year.
Chris Sacca says that “we won’t work with someone that hasn’t worked a shitty job”. And there’s a lot reasoning behind that. To keep it short, working with people who have worked less desirable jobs diversifies people and teaches you how to develop a work ethic.
So, if you’re working a shitty job you don’t enjoy, don’t beat yourself up over it. It’s better to have work than no work. Learn as much as you in your current role, so you can take it with you to your next career. Hustle hard to learn the skills you need while at your current job because, when you look back (if you make the most of every position), you will respect how valuable it was.
I wouldn’t be where I am if it wasn’t for all those jobs I worked and I know that, looking back, I’ll be thankful for every moment I had (even at shitty jobs).
So keep hustling and don’t stop learning.
*This post first appeared on my medium.*