Many things have changed since I started out. Many, many things. Back in the day I would have been using a pen to write this blog.
I digress. I work on college campuses and one of the major differences I see today is what I think is a misunderstanding about entry-level jobs.
It used to be that most students had jobs and classes that were geared toward the future. The library shelving might have been the first rung on the ladder for a researcher. Minding the cash register might have been the first step toward an accounting career. Dishwashing, as was my case, could be a door into the hospitality field.
I can’t think of better leadership training than working in the field.
Somewhere along the way, that path seemed to wash out. For a variety of economic and cultural reasons, our attitudes about these jobs changed.
For companies, it’s an issue because it’s tough to fill front-line entry-level positions — the ones that require hard work and dedication in return for pay and the opportunity to advance.
It doesn’t have to be that way. There are companies, mine included, that recognize the value of entry-level employees. It’s a huge benefit to employ someone who is willing to stay on, learn the ropes, embrace the culture, take advantage of training and move up.
For students, the benefits can be even greater. These jobs offer real skills that will be needed at every stage of a career. I can’t think of better leadership training than working in the field.
It’s a similar story for an executive chef I know who started as a line cook when he was a student … and one of our operations managers who started as a student working in the deli … and a senior marketing manager who started out as a cashier when he was a student … and a former student who worked in catering while she studied biology and is now a food operations manager.
As companies with a presence on campuses launch their annual hiring sprees (Sodexo needs to fill 20,000 posts across the country in the next two months), I hope students and those who care about them consider that the jobs they take now can pay dividends for many, many years to come.