I don’t remember all of my first interviews, but I clearly remember the one that got me a job. My first gig out of school was working in for-profit education, teaching kids 4 to 14 how to read, write, and do the same math formulas that haunted my elementary education.
I was already out of college for a few months. Read: Very anxious for someone, anyone, to hire me. At the time, I was working in the kitchen of my favorite dive bar. While I enjoyed hanging out with bartenders and smart ass regulars, I wanted to start my career. College isn’t cheap and loans were due. I needed a salary, benefits, retirement. A “good” job.
My definition of good was pretty damn simple back then. I just wanted a gig that paid more than $8 an hour and didn’t make me smell like a deep fryer.
The interview was 5 hours away. It was a classroom-style presentation followed by a group interview and a 1-on-1. If you survived this marathon, you’d get an offer and assigned a regional center (aka strip mall) where you would go to work every day.
I wish I had known this interview marathon was a job preview. While I enjoyed interacting with parents and students, I drove over an hour for my weird split schedule and constant badgering from the regional director to sell was frustrating. What made it worse? My salary broke down to less per hour than I made as a cook. I thought it was a “good job” because it was a more traditional job, you know, business cards and shit. Wrong.
A good job is good for you.
It took me decades to figure out that a good job is not what’s good by anyone else’s standards. Other people don’t have to go to your job or live with the sad paycheck that shows up every two weeks. A good job is one that makes you feel proud and safe. It’s a job that helps you live the life you want to live. Yes, even in your first job.
“It’s a good job. I don’t want to just quit.”
“It’s a good job in a pandemic. It’s not smart.”
Then I say, “What is a good job for you? Is this job good for you?” Their pause says a lot without saying anything at all.
Good is a personal definition. Whenever we make blanket statements that give work all the credit for being good to us, we set the tone for the new generation of work coming in behind us. These bright-eyed kids have only heard all the scary stories and lies about “good work” so far. Unfortunately, they believe us.
We can do the best for them and help these entry-level employees understand what good is by breaking the mold. First, we do it by writing personal definitions of good. Then, by telling them the truth about good jobs from the day they show up.
We can help them by doing well for ourselves too. Redefining good over and over throughout your career is healthy. In this scenario, it also makes you a role model. Perks.
In my blog this week, I wrote about entry-level job postings and how most say a lot without saying anything at all. I imagine if my former team had been telling the truth, I would have figured out a lot earlier that the tutoring job wasn’t the best fit despite my desperation for a “good job.”
I hope you’ll check that out as well as the other articles I’m sharing this week. No matter what, take care of yourself - mentally and physically.
Here to help,