5 Things I Learned from My First Job

The folks over at career site, TheLadders, reached out to me recently and inspired me to share some lessons that I learned from my first job. Since my first job holds a special place in my heart (it did last 8 years!), I’m all for reminiscing!

I started my first job when I was 11, just a few weeks before my 12th birthday. You might be thinking it’s a bit young to start working. Well, my first job wasn’t your typical job.

My mom spotted an ad in the paper for a kid fashion reporter for Burdines (now Macy’s) at our local Radio Disney station and told me about it. It sounded like a fun gig + working for Disney?! Awesome. So I went for it. And a few days later, got the call!

Although the job was originally to record fashion commercials, I quickly took on researching, reviewing, and writing other commercial ads, assisted at promotional events, and after a couple years, ended up hosting a weekly talk show on the station!

Now that you have the backstory, here are the big lessons I learned about the world of work from my first job.

5 ThingsI Learned From MyFirst Job

  1. Get creative. There’s a decent amount of freedom in radio (at least with what I did), so as often as I could, I had brainstorm sessions to see what else could be done, and how it could be accomplished.
  2. Don’t be afraid to speak up. I was the youngest person on staff by years, but if I had an idea, thought, suggestion, I offered it. And 99% of the time, it was considered or implemented!
  3. Be prepared to wing it. You can prepare for something as much as possible, but things can always change in an instant. Several times my weekly show topic changed at the last minute, and all of my research and prep for another topic, went out the window. It was important that I kept my cool and rolled with the situation, not breaking a sweat in front of show guests.
  4. Step up as much as possible. The more you step up, the more experience you get, and recognition from your boss/the team (which is always nice).
  5. Do what you love. This is the most important. Life is short. You should absolutely enjoy what you do!

I was so incredibly fortunate to have my Radio Disney job period – let alone it being my first one ever. It was definitely a life-changing experience, for sure!

Flashing forward to present-day, if you’re on the job hunt (or curious about the market in general), check out TheLadders new Job Search section. It’s a one-stop shop to explore career opportunities, job market insights, and more!

What was your first job like? What lessons did you learn from it?



  1. August 18, 2015 / 1:42 PM

    I would say to find a mentor. Seek out someone at your first job that you really connect with and who inspires you. You need people like that on your side while you’re green and growing.

    • August 18, 2015 / 10:12 PM

      So true! Thanks for sharing your tip, Ashley!

  2. August 19, 2015 / 5:03 PM

    my first job was mcdonalds haha. i loved it and it really brought me out of my shell. i learned lots of lessons from it, mainly work hard, the customer isn’t always right but they get to think they are, free food makes me gain 50lbs.. haha.