Some of our ScholarNet team members share stories of their first jobs – and how those experiences shaped them.
We learn many things from our very first jobs – responsibility, courage, manual dexterity, patience, teamwork, assertiveness, adaptability to different personalities, and the importance of giving back to our communities and providing great customer service, just to name a few. For some of us on the ScholarNet team, we still have other ties to those first jobs – a love of Dairy Queen, a dislike of McDonalds, an ability to sweep the ‘80s movie trivia category, or a best friend we met while working the drive-through. It’s likely these first job experiences shaped us in many ways we don’t even recognize.
Mike Mutziger, Vice President, Marketing and Sales
My first job was setting trap. “What is that,” you ask? I’d sit in a little concrete building and put clay pigeons on a machine that could kill me while grown men with 12-gauge shotguns were standing 16 yards away, shooting right over my head. Once in a while they would hit the building I was in! I sat on a concrete floor with a hole dug in for my feet. Mice would run around in there with me, and I’d have to sit there for hours at a time. All this for $2.25/hr. when I was 12 years old. Where was OSHA when I needed them?
Note: Mike adds that he loved the job at the time, but he thinks back now to how unsafe and dirty it was.
Megan Gould, Marketing Specialist
My first job was in high school, working at the local Dairy Queen in my hometown. I loved being around ice cream all the time and took full advantage of the employee discounts! I learned quite a bit about how much work and preparation goes into the fast food industry, how to deal with customers – both happy and unhappy – and how to make the perfect blizzard to be held upside-down out the drive-through window. I still love Dairy Queen to this day, and wish I had some ice cream with me now!
Diane Borchardt, Regional Vice President
I started at Dick’s Red Owl as a cashier when I was a junior in high school. Although Dick expected us to work hard, we also managed to have great fun. Whether it was trying to ring up the items more quickly than the bagger could get them in the bag, shelving boxes, putting bread on the racks, straightening the shelves, or cleaning up at the end of the day, we always managed to make it a good time. Although Dick’s Red Owl is no longer, and my co-workers are spread across the country from Florida to D.C. and Minnesota, social media has given us the opportunity to still be in touch.
Kyle Danielson, Marketing Writer
My first job was working as an umpire for a junior baseball league when I was about 13. I had one of those cool strike/ball/out counters and I basically got paid to watch baseball games. It was a nice experience in communicating with kids/parents, and I only ended up flubbing one call, but nobody got super mad or yelled or anything. I just had to lie to a kid because it was too late to change my mind.
Jenny Kaluva, Client Services
I worked at McDonald’s through most of high school, typically as the drive-through girl. Although McDonald’s employees get a bad rap, I really learned a strong work ethic since everything is dependent on team work and being efficient. Eventually I was able to deal with every type of person and personality there is, which carried over to future customer service positions. I am from a college town, so it was also fun to mingle with the college students that worked there – and I ended up meeting my best friend for life. We both still have a slight aversion to McDonald’s food.
Susie McCormick, Senior Marketing Writer
I did lots of babysitting when I was younger. But I started my first “job” at 15, working concessions at a movie theater when there were big blockbusters like E.T., Ghostbusters, early Indiana Jones movies, and The Karate Kid. I loved movies, so it was a blast! I overcame shyness by waiting on customers, and honed math skills – since we had to use calculators rather than registers to total the orders, make change, and track inventory. I popped hundreds of batches of addictive popcorn and served it with layers of fake butter, memorized lines from popular 80s movies, and developed lifelong close friendships with several coworkers.
Biz Daniel, Regional Vice President
I lifeguarded at both the beach and a country club pool (one year at the beach and eight at the country club). I grew up going to that pool and figured I was going to be there all summer anyway. I also swam on the swim team, so I was there with about 10 other friends from the time the pool opened till it closed every day (we were nicknamed the pool rats). So I figured I’d work and get some money to sit in the sun and watch people swim. The beach was a trial run (Virginia Beach) and it was crazy and stressful, so I just did that one summer. I did jump in the pool after one little girl, who was no more than three years old and looked a lot like Cindy Lou Who from the Grinch. Her mother was famous for coming in, setting up her spot for the day with all the other ladies, getting her drinks, and letting the little kid wander wherever she wanted. One day the little girl just walked up to the edge of the deep end and jumped in – so I jumped in after her and made sure she came up. That was about it – nothing too exciting.
Renola Swoboda, Senior Social Media Specialist
I worked at a resale shop that had wares from regular folks and the rich and famous (Mike Jordan, Harold Ramis, etc.). My job was restocking the shelves with new items, handling returns, maintaining and managing the fitting rooms. It was fun working with all the volunteer grandmas, and rewarding because a percentage of the profits went to help community programs.