Today, I am participating in a blog swap. This week’s topic is “My first experience making money, and the lessons learned.” Welcome, Barbara! Please also stop by and visit my post on Barbara’s blog, My First Fiver Sale.
How My Early Jobs Defined Who I Am; Working is About More Than Money
By, Barbara Friedberg, MBA, MS
I was a capitalist from a young age. No summer was complete without a lemonade stand. It was so fun screaming at the oncoming cars and passersby, “Lemonade, 10 cents.” (Wow, inflation really hurts!)
Then there was the massive neighborhood carnival Ruthie, Judy, and I put on. I think the tickets cost a dime. A recent talk with my long lost pal Ruthie, reminded me that we contributed our profits to charity!
At age 16 I decided it was time for a real money making job. The help wanted section in the newspaper (yeah, that’s how we got jobs in the dark ages) had a listing for an Avon sales representative. I spent a few bucks buying the supplies, got assigned a territory, and I was off. Week-ends had me knocking on doors in my territory, passing out the Avon booklets, taking orders, and delivering the prior week’s orders. I loved it! I felt like a real grown up. I loved looking at all my products, organizing the little sample packets and tubes of lipstick. After several months, I even had some regular customers!
Working for the city recreation department came next. My cousin told me about this one, you take a test and if you qualify you get into the public recreation system. These prized opportunities offered jobs at city run community centers and pools. For several years I rotated working at various recreation centers, staffing the game room. It was awesome to have a job where you get to hang out with kids, play pool and ping pong, and teach exercise classes. In the summers they moved me to the swimming pool where I was a life guard. This job was the best!
I continued at the recreation centers for awhile and then transitioned into a few other jobs.
I was a tutor for a private education tutoring company. I got fired (and can’t remember why).
I had a brief stint as a tailor for a retail shop. I know why I got fired from this job; although I was a decent seamstress, I wasn’t a tailor.
Next I decided to continue with self employment. I made “hippie” shirts and sold them to my friends for $20 each. That was fun and so cool to see my friends wearing my shirts!
Then I went to Spain where I had an internship. This was a life altering experience. I learned Spanish working for ITT and making a stipend as well. In Spain I also taught an occasional private English lesson.
It’s not about the money, it’s about life!
All those early jobs helped me feel grown up! I didn’t like being a child and working helped me transition into adulthood. I’ve always been more of a saver than a spender, so the money was great and I funneled most of it into my savings account.
Those early jobs gave me practice in working and dealing with failure and rejection. I can bounce back from rejection fairly rapidly and am quite good at pushing forward regardless of my fears and anxieties.
One of the most important lessons of those early jobs was learning about me; what I liked and what I didn’t. Although working for the recreation centers was fun, I knew it wouldn’t sustain and challenge me for the long term. The entrepreneurship has carried throughout my life. When I got my Master’s degree in Counseling and worked as a career counselor early in my life, I also had a side career counseling business to pull in some extra cash.
I am still an entrepreneur and have evolved into a seasoned investment portfolio manager (after gaining my MBA). There is nothing like working to transition from youth to adulthood.
Barbara Friedberg, MBA, MS is a portfolio manager, author of How to Get Rich; Wealth Building Guide for the Financially Illiterate, and publisher of the internationally known Barbara Friedberg Personal Finance Website.