Workforce & Workplace
We Want You!
Jim Jenkins
Jim Jenkins
CEO, Universities East, Sodexo North America

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.

These jobs tend to be more stable and can lead to a longtime career. For me, dishwashing led to becoming a CEO.

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.

In fact, last year, Sodexo promoted 500 hourly employees – -cashiers cooks, waiters, waitresses and janitors — into management.

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.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

Your personal data may be processed by Sodexo to deal with your contact request. This personal data is processed based on the legitimate interest of Sodexo of sharing information about its services. This personal data is processed by the authorized individuals in the Sodexo group and may be disclosed to external service providers, including from countries which are not considered as having an adequate level of protection. In the event that external service providers are engaged, contractual arrangements are made to ensure that such service providers comply with the strict privacy rules applicable and put in place appropriate safeguards to ensure an adequate level of protection. In accordance with the applicable law, you can exercise your data protection rights. For more information, please see the Privacy Policy.