Every Job I Have Ever Had and What Each One Taught Me
Updated: Jan 25
Something you should know about me. I like lists. They help me make sense of things and connect the dots of my life. Today, I'm sharing every job I've ever had, what they taught me and how they have all contributed in some way to the tapestry of my career.
Customer Service at Brumby's Bakery: My first ever real job. Super excited about it. I'd put my resume in everywhere and had three interviews and Brumby's was the first one to hire me. They were also the first one to fire me. The only problem with customer service? You can't actually be terrified of customers! It seems insane now but 15 year old me was too scared to greet customers or even say hello unless they spoke to me first. I was petrified that they would find me 'pushy' or 'intrusive' so I waited for them to speak first. I lasted six weeks before I was fired. I felt completely humiliated at the time, but I totally get why. I learnt how to pick myself up, dust myself off and try again from this job.
Kitchen Hand at McDonalds: Back of house suited me way better. I learnt how to make burgers and I didn't have to deal with customers at all. I was never great at it and was often in trouble for not being fast enough but I was punctual, reliable and could always be counted on for last minute shift swaps so they kept me on anyway. I don't know that I learnt anything about work, but I sure learnt a lot about boys courtesy of the really social crew, gigantic house parties and fun times with my co-workers.
Customer Service at ChemCare: My aunty was able to get me more hours working at a new Chemcare store which was opening (she knew the Manager) so I quit McDonalds and tried my hand at Customer Service again. I still wasn't great at it but my time at McDonalds had provided me with more confidence about life in general so I skated past. Also I had a great work ethic, always turned up and could be counted on which probably made up for my lack of customer skills to some extent. Eventually we got a new manager though and he cut everyone's shifts in half so he could have more casuals on the books instead of relying on a smaller crew and praying they would all turn up to their shifts. Made sense from a business perspective I guess but I needed more hours so onwards.
Trimmer at Oakey Abattoirs: This is going to sound nuts but for the longest time this was my longest running job. I actually loved it. Mostly because there was zero customer service and I could zone out all day. I was writing a novel at the time, so I pretty much wrote it in my head at work and then typed it as soon as I got home. My dad worked out there and got me the job. The pay was really good because it was considered such a crappy job but honestly all I did all day was trim little bits of hair off the product. I actually worked there for six months before I worked out my job was actually to cut off any stray bits of hair that came past on the product. I'm not even joking. The women who trained me would just skim a random chunk off the product as it came past and I had no idea for the longest time what our real job was. No-one noticed!
Working on autopilot meant perfect conditions for a flourishing writer! There was a definite dark side to it, though. Sexual harassment was rife and at 17, I had no idea how to handle it. They had a policy in place that they taught us at induction but actually reporting anything in real life? No Way. It was a large close knit male dominated group and anyone that caused a fuss was quickly labelled a trouble-maker and their work life made hell. At 17, there wasn't a chance in hell I was going to report anything. I spent three years doing this and might have stayed there forever if it wasn't for one of my older work mates telling me that I had to get out while I was still young enough to get a new job or I'd be pigeon holed as a factory worker and never be able to leave.
Customer Service at Crawfos Roadhouse: After my pep talk from my co-worker I made a spur of the minute decision to move to Thargomindah where some of my family lived because my brother said he could probably get me on somewhere out there. I ended up doing a few weeks at the local roadhouse but my customer service skills were still pretty ordinary so I jumped at the chance to go work in the local shearing sheds when one of the contractors who shopped there offered me a job.
Roust-About/Cook in the Shearing Sheds: I am literally famous for not being able to cook as a result of this job. I worked as a Rousie in the shearing sheds, which again, I was pretty crap at. And I hated it. Day in, day out, all I could smell and see were sheep. When the cook quit I was asked to take over the cooking. In my defense I did mention that I had failed home economics at school but the boss hadn't listened. What happened next was a list of epic disasters including but not limited to:
Setting the oven on fire
Boiling lettuce instead of cabbage
Cooking little cakes that were so hard, the shearers called them rock cakes and proceeded to peg each other with them instead of eating them.
When one of my friends from town offered me a job on the local Parks and Gardens Team, I was pretty happy to jump ship. The money in the sheds was amazing though AND I got to travel all around outback QLD and NSW for work. And I loved the people I worked with.
Parks and Gardens Team for Bulloo Shire Council: I LOVED the Parks and Garden's Team so much I worked there twice. I spent all day weeding, mowing or wipper-snipping but I worked with a good crew, no customer service, I could listen to music while I worked and I actually really enjoyed the hands on work. I learnt a bunch of stuff about machinery which came in handy for my next job.
Working for the Bulloo Shire Council in my very early 20's.
Automotive Servicing Trainee for Bulloo Shire Council: I was offered the chance to get formal qualifications through a traineeship program with the same employer and jumped at the chance. At this point in time, I didn't have any formal qualifications to speak of so it seemed like a good opportunity to upskill. Although I quickly realized anything mechanical wasn't for me or in my zone of genius, I loved the crew in the workshop and enjoyed the experience.
Fun Fact: Although I'm qualified to service light vehicles, I never once serviced my own car again and have always paid someone to do it for me. It's good to know how to though!
Bar Tender for Bulloo River Hotel: At the same time as I worked at my traineeship, I also worked two nights a week at the local pub. Partly so I could gain hands on experience in another industry and partly to top up my income. Note: My customer service skills had NOT improved any.
Off Duty at Lizards Bar and Grill on a working holiday in my early 20's.
Working Holiday Jobs:
I always wanted to travel so after my traineeship finished I figured it was the perfect time to explore Australia. During this time I travelled to many places and took on a wide variety of roles. Sometimes working up to three jobs at the same time. Sometimes I worked across a six week relief contract, other times I stayed for six months. The jobs included:
Bar Tender for Lizards Bar and Grill
Housekeeper for Novotel Resort
Kitchen Hand for Uno
Hospitality All-Rounder for Chandler Mcleod
Parks and Gardens Attendant for Serco
Cleaner for Serco
Kiosk Attendant for the Snack Station
Kitchen Hand for Cristabelles
Postal Worker for Halls Creek Post Office
Receptionist for The Irish Club
Car Detailer for Toyota
Car Detailer for Allen Car Detailing
Picker/Packer for Amart Allsports
Bar Tender for the Newtown Hotel
Call Centre Operative for Telstra
Packer for Pittsworth Meatworks
Factory Worker for Weiz Icecream
Administration Assistant for Wandless Metals
Youth Coordinator for Darwin Skills Development Scheme: I loved Darwin so much that I decided to settle down there for a bit. By this time I was in my early 20's and was starting to think seriously about my future career. I'd enrolled in uni via correspondence and was so excited when I found out I had the job. My job was to work with disadvantaged youth aged 15-21 and help them with their employment and education options as part of the JPET program run by the government. To this day, this was my favorite job ever and I was devastated when three years later, the government axed the program Australia wide and I had to leave.
Fostering Case Worker for Churches of Christ Care: After the JPET program closed, I moved to Mount Isa and worked as a Fostering Case Worker. Basically my job was to support Foster Carers support the children in their care, as well as doing the intake assessments for new foster carers and matching children in care with the best Foster Carer for the child's needs. I also ran training for new foster carers. I really enjoy case management and I worked with a good team but Mt Isa and I didn't really vibe so eventually I moved onto a new role in Charleville.
Spending time on the river during my down-time from work as a Fostering Case Worker in Mt Isa in my late 20's.
Employment Consultant for Max Employment: I moved to Charleville and took on a role as an Employment Consultant for MAX where I worked to write resumes, lead job preparation courses and consult with clients to help them obtain successful employment. My earlier experience working with youth in the same sector was a huge advantaged and the job came very easily to me. My co-workers were the bomb as well. Eventually, my husband and I moved to Cairns so he could take a job opportunity that came up and I moved on to the same role with a different company.
Employment Consultant for ITEC Employment: I did exactly the same role as I did for MAX with a different company in Cairns. Again, it was a great team and I was really good at my job. I usually won 'Employment Consultant of the Month' for getting the most people into work. I probably would have stayed there forever except it was time for me to start a family.
Kitchen Hand for the Gowrie Road Hotel: After my daughter was born, we really needed the extra cash but she was only a few months old and I didn't want to go back to full time work so I took a job as a Kitchen Hand two nights per week. The extra 8 hours in wages gave us a bit of breathing room financially and my husband could watch Indy because I only worked nights.
Freelance Writer (Self Employed): While I was working at the Gowrie Road, I realized that I really wanted the freedom to set my own hours but work doing something that I loved. I read the 4 Hour Work Week by Tim Ferris and came up with the idea of writing documents for people who were too busy to write them for themselves.
To this day, I can honestly say that without Tim Ferris, I would never have had a business. If you ready one book for the rest of your life, make it this one. It literally took me an hour to set up a super basic website and connect it to Adwords
I followed the instructions in his book and within 24 hours I had my first customer. I was terrified and excited all at the same time. Most of my work came from writing resumes and selection criteria for people who were too time poor to write their own and I still freelance to this day. Over time, my work has evolved into more of a training/online course focus but I still find time to write!
Basically the combination of my years writing in my spare time, my experience in training as a Fostering Case Worker and as an Employment Consultant and reading the Time Ferris book created the perfect environment to go into business on my own. So much so, that I've been running my own business in one form or another for over a decade now.
So there you have it folks! If you worry that your career isn't linear or if you are working a dead and job and feel like you can't escape - this is the post for you. You can ALWAYS pivot, side-step or build into the career of your dreams, no matter what your starting point.
I offer a professional resume service, Australia Wide including Hobart. Find more information about my professional resume writing service here: http://nicolejessicacoggan.com/hobart-professional-resume-writer-service/