The 4 Life Lessons Of Seasonal Positions

Re-framing Your Thinking

the4lifelessonsofseasonalpositions

“You ought to be thrilled that you got a job in the mail room. And when you get there, here’s what you do: Be really great at sorting mail.”

                                                                                                                                                                              -Randy Pausch

Even if it’s just sorting mail or folding clothes at your local J-Crew, the littlest things can teach you the biggest things.

As the year winds down, It has been crickets around here. A major part of the reason is because balancing my part-time job as a seasonal retail associate along with my personal life and this blog has been a challenge. But this job has been an invaluable learning experience, even after just a few weeks. And that experience alone has made me realize the truth in Randy Pausch’s book when he said the following:

“No job is beneath you.”

Not that I didn’t believe him when I read that particular clause, but I have always found first-hand experience to be the best teacher. And while I don’t see myself working in retail forever, that’s not to say that there isn’t anything valuable to be learned from the experience.

Feeling Bad About Your Mistakes (And Apologizing Repeatedly) Doesn’t Help Others

 

This might be a “no, duh” sort of thing for some of us, but for me, it’s something that I’ve really had to learn.

Growing up going back and forth to Tokyo, I was surrounded by people who constantly apologized for everything, whether it was making a mistake while conducting a transaction with a customer in a bank or accidentally bumping into someone at the train station as they rushed to get to where they needed to be.

This is not to say that you should not apologize for your mistakes, but your energy would be better spent learning what you did wrong, how to correct it, and putting effort toward avoiding that mistake in the future.

Feeling bad about something that’s already happened doesn’t allow you to go back in time and change the circumstances or the mistake itself. Taking the experience and applying it so that you can avoid mistakes in the future shows people that you are flexible, and that you pay attention to detail. And you’ll save your employer and co-workers plenty of headaches.

Sometimes You Just Have to Say No (Or Ask People To Wait)

 

I once read a quote somewhere that said, “A lack of boundaries invites a lack of respect.”

I was raised to be a people pleaser. I learned to fear authority figures, especially those who raised their voices at me. I thought that the easiest way to be of service to people was to never say no when they asked me for things, especially when you’re providing a service or product to a customer. I did things not because I genuinely wanted to, but because I wanted to avoid getting into trouble. And because I wanted to please people so badly, they were able to manipulate me and push me around.

Looking back on my life, this pattern has been prevalent. I am the kind of person who wants to jump into something the minute you ask for it. But I realize that by continuing that pattern, I’m not setting boundaries for myself. Not only that, but I’m not providing good customer service to others.

Asking people to wait is never a bad thing. Sometimes you need to do it. Yes, providing prompt (and quality) customer service is important. But sometimes you need to ask people to wait. You’ll be able to answer questions for thoroughly and avoid feeling like a dog being pulled on a leash.

When you feel like a dog being pulled on a leash, you can’t do your job very well. And when you can’t do your job very well…we all know how that goes. You were hired for a reason. And as an employee, you are expected to do the job (no matter how menial the task is) to the best of your ability, and to the company’s standards.

And if that means asking customers to wait instead of answering their questions while you’re assisting someone else, than so be it.

Some People Will Be Rude, No Matter What You Do (But The Things They Say Have Nothing To Do With You)

 

I’ve said it before, but some people could just be straight up rude. No matter how courteous you are, it doesn’t mean that that courtesy will be reciprocated. And yes, for a sensitive person (like yours truly), it can take a while to shake off.

You have no control over how others treat you. What you do have control over is your reaction. So the next time someone snaps at you, swallow that snippy retort. Yes, easier said than done, coming from a self-proclaimed no-filter kind of girl. But there is a big difference. You are not with your BFFs having a girls night; you are in a professional working environment. And there are rules of etiquette that need to be followed.

Take Your Time

In today’s day and age when we get irritated if the Internet loads in 5 minutes instead of 5 seconds, we’ve become used to multitasking, trying to do everything at once.

But here’s the thing: rushing allows you to make mistakes. And mistakes often create more work for those around you. Taking your time allows you to ensure that you complete each step of the process to the best of your ability. And when you complete each step of the process to the best of your ability, customers can see that.

I don’t know about you, but I’d rather wait for something of quality rather than have someone rush through something and have a not-so-stellar final product.

Randy Pausch may never have gotten to play in the NFL, but football taught him valuable life lessons; you may not earn a Grammy or an Olympic medal, but that doesn’t mean that your experience (whether it be a seasonal job, internship, or quest to earn an Academy Award) counts for nothing. There are lessons to be learned wherever you are in life; you just have to be open to them.

The Biggest Gift I Ever Got: How I Turned A Negative Into a Positive Without Math (And How You Can Too)

Culture & Society, Re-framing Your Thinking

 

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(Image Credit: Kathy Smith)

Firstly, this requires no math whatsoever.

Secondly, I’m not going to tell you that you should mutter positive affirmations under your breath the whole time you’re recovering from going through something negative or read What Color’s Your Parachute or some other self-help or career book. Sure, that works for some people, but it doesn’t work for everyone.

I didn’t get this gift on Christmas; I got it at the end of this summer. It wasn’t wrapped up in pretty paper or decorated like Japanese department store windows. It was 6 little words.

“We have to let you go.”

I’ll be honest: being let go from my first job wasn’t pleasant. It was shocking. It felt like I was being hit headlong by several of those long buses used for tours from Coach America. We’ve all seen Mean Girls. We all know what happened when Regina got hit by the bus.

I didn’t fracture my spine, but that didn’t mean it didn’t hurt.

In retrospect, being let go was probably the best thing that ever happened to me.

It gave me the opportunity to do a lot of soul searching; I worked with someone who helped me get some clarity on some of the things that I’m passionate about. Her coaching also exposed me to new thinking patterns and tools. This isn’t to say that I’ve done a complete 180. It’s a definite process. Here are some things that have helped me as I continue to look for the next stepping-stone in my journey.

 

Give Yourself Time to Grieve What You’ve Lost

 

 In the words of Tess Vigeland, one of the brilliant speakers who inspired this post:

“We all know that we’re not supposed to define ourselves by what we do, our job is not who we are. And we certainly aren’t supposed to define ourselves by page views and Twitter followers, and audience size. But if you have a job, it defines you in many ways; it just does.”

Professional athletes are defined (at least in part) by their sport. A good chunk of their lives revolve around it. When they retire or injure themselves (depending on the severity of the injury,) they are forced to recalibrate their thinking.

What do they have left?

Who are they without the sport?

You may have to redefine who you are and what success means to you. And that’s not an easy thing, by any means. You have to grieve that loss. For me, this meant having a good cry, copious amounts of tea, and talking to friends. Take your time. You lost something, a part of your identity. Mourn that loss in the best way you know how.

 

Know that Rejection is a Nothing More Than Someone’s Opinions and Preferences

If someone had told me this before I started my job hunt, it would have saved me a lot of grief.  But I’m grateful that I know it now. Thank you, Jia Jiang.

 

 “Rejection is nothing more than someone’s opinion and preference. It says as much about the person who gives the rejection as the people who receive it.” 

 

I would have looked at you like you had told me you had told me you had claws growing out of your head if you had told me this a year ago. But it’s true. When you apply for a job and don’t get it, the fact is that the person (or people) who looked at your application doesn’t think that you’re the right fit for their company and its culture. That’s their opinion; it’s not a fact. It doesn’t reflect badly on you or mean that you’re a bad person. It’s just that someone thinks you’re not a good fit.

 

Re-Evaluate

 

Take some time (especially when you’re talking careers) ask yourself some questions:

What works for you?

What do you enjoy?

What do you hate?

Take note of those things; they help. I worked with a coach to develop an ideal vision for myself; being able to articulate my long-term goals to professionals has helped me immensely in the whole networking process.

 

Surround Yourself with Like-Minded People

 

It’s important to surround yourself with people who you respect and admire, if possible.  We are social animals, easily influenced by our surroundings. Having a strong support group is crucial to turning negative energy into positive energy.  Getting encouragement from those who love you does wonders.

 

Experiment

 

Figure out what you like and do more of it. Put your skills out there; you never know what you may get in return.

 

Know That Not Knowing Is Okay

 

Just know that whatever you do will be remarkable.