From a young age I was inspired by The Babysitter's Club and wanted to have my own spending money, so I did what I read about–I babysat. I would work every weekend for my $4-$5 an hour and felt such independence by being able to contribute to my university fund (my parent's rule was that 50% had to go in the bank), donate some to church, and have a wallet full of money to spend if I wished. It was my first job and like every one I had after that, I learned something from it that contributed to who I am today.
From babysitting each weekend and throughout the summer I realized the value of a dollar. I was making just $5 an hour babysitting three kids and that money was hard earned! I would take them to the park, feed them, get them ready for bed, and read a million bed time stories. I didn't want to spend my savings on something like slurpees and candy, I wanted to thoughtfully consider where my money would go. I made lists of what I really wanted and saved for these special items–like my Doc Martens and stereo system!
I then got a job at the local mall at one of my favourite places: Purdy's Chocolates. I started in grade 10 and worked throughout the rest of high school part-time. From this job I learned that I love quality chocolate and enjoy working with others as a team. It was my first time making friends with people who were outside of my school community and with women of all ages–I loved the camaraderie; although it was 20 years ago I can still remember everyone's name. I particularly enjoyed working the cash register and serving customers delicious chocolates because everyone left happy.
A few years into university (and a few jobs later) I became a residence advisor. I helped plan various activities and ensured that the rules of residence were followed; it was helping to create and foster community. I made some amazing life-long friends here and learned that to really get something out of a community, you need to put the effort in. University could have been a big, scary place for me as I came from a small private school with mostly like-minded people...to go to a school with various faiths, backgrounds and values was eye-opening and important. I grew so much by discovering who I really was and what I believed. I connected with some great leaders and was trained in areas like peer counselling and conflict management. I could lead. I could help people feel at home away from home.
When I finished university I started teaching high school science and biology. My intent was to share my love of science with young minds and instead I learned that high school students are awesome–even more so than the digestive system (which is incredible, people!). I found that they needed to be heard and encouraged. I learned that the students were more important than the curriculum; relationships first, information second. You might think that's a given, but for me, I had to learn it. As a parent now, I see that even more. I would love for my own kids to feel known, loved, challenged and encouraged than to learn the quadratic formula.
Currently, I am a substitute teacher as I still have a couple young kids at home. I also have the role of foster mom. I thought that I would provide a loving and caring home for a child, and I have, but it is so much more. I have learned that although it might hurt to say goodbye down the road, it does not help to resist love–don't hold back. I was surprised that I loved our Little One as my own; surprised and thankful. What a joy it is to fall in love again with a child...a sweet, chubby-cheeked, energetic cutie-pie whose growth and resilience impresses me daily. As long as this child is happy and there is hope, I will be okay with whatever happens in the months and years to come.
There were other jobs and more lessons (like building a fence or selling hot dogs is not something I'd like to do again) and I look forward to seeing what my own kids end up doing over the years. What is a job that you've had and what have you learned from it?