The person I am now, and who I was a year ago, are two completely different people. Being from a proud Pakistani family, no girl had ever worked a job till they were an adult. So, when I told my dad that I had started to apply for part-time jobs at the start of grade 11, he wasn’t exactly happy. I was told that I was in fact too young, and not ready to face the conflicts and horrors of the real world. Being the stubborn teenager I am, I continued to apply for jobs and eventually got a few interview requests. A week later, it was my first day as a customer service representative at Tim Hortons. I was strangely happy with a 14 dollars/hour job for a girl who dreams of becoming a corporate lawyer one day. My first week was tough, I didn’t get along with the rest of the employees since I was the ‘new girl’ and didn’t know how to do anything. However, within a few weeks, however, I aced every skill and fulfilled every duty. For other people, a small part-time job may have not been a big deal, but I put in every effort possible to gain my experience and learn from my first job in the real world.
What I learnt was life-changing. Firstly, this job enhanced my interpersonal skills. At work, I met many different types of people of different ages and from various backgrounds. Interacting with these people taught me the importance of teamwork and how to be more tolerant of others. It is crucial for a teenager to have these qualities. Since workplaces are so diverse, learning how to have a positive and productive relationship with people around you is key. There were many instances where either employees or customers, really tested my patience. Now, in my normal day to day life, I would deal with issues like these very differently, however, what my 7-day training at Tim Hortons taught me was to listen, stay calm and try your best to put yourself in the customer’s shoes. If I am being completely honest, the first few situations I faced like these, it was very difficult to not lose my temper. Nevertheless, my manager made sure that I was capable enough to deal with any type of customer that came through. These experiences helped me better my personality, and the way I deal with situations at school, and in my personal life. I gained communication skills, a good work ethic, problem-solving skills and an eagerness to learn, all of which I am sure will help me later on in my professional life.
Most importantly, working as a teen teaches you how to handle money and offers an opportunity for financial education. I always thought that once I started earning for myself, I would buy anything I wanted. However, working 8-hour shifts, 2-3 days a week, made me realize the actual value of money. Rather than spending money on unnecessary “teen wants”, I started saving money and spending on my needs. Real-life lessons and the importance and value of money are not taught to students in high school. I believe that it is extremely important for teenagers to understand the concept of finances and saving money, in order for them to transition into their post-secondary and professional lives smoothly.
The past year at Tim Hortons has helped me grow so much as a person. Everything I have learnt will definitely help me in law school and as a future lawyer. Furthermore, I am now more mature, independent and realistic. Many parents think that allowing your child to work will distract them from school. However, I believe that it teaches you how to balance and prioritize. Balancing your work schedule along with your school work and family life can naturally lead to better organization skills. I know this essay won’t be of interest to most people who have flourished in life and are working a high paying job, but I honestly believe that professional development starts at a young age. I strongly urge every young adult to work part-time, it definitely is a life-changing experience.