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First Seven Jobs

by David Brock on August 13th, 2016

I’m a terrific fan of Fred Wilson’s AVC blog.  I just read First Seven Jobs.  I thought I’d try to remember.

  1. Babysitter:  Yeah, I guess it was a job, I picked up some spending money, had a pretty significant responsibility.  I did it in junior high, but didn’t do it very long or very much.
  2. Church Janitor:  Our family was very active in a local community church, they needed someone to clean the church.  I can’t recall whether I volunteered or was volunteered.  I don’t think I was very good at it, I’d always clean the church on Saturday mornings.  I suspect my Mom would go to the church on Saturday afternoons to “finish” what I didn’t do very well.
  3. Masonry/concrete laborer:  When I was a young teenager, my parents bought a brand new house.  My Dad is a very talented DIY’er, so we put in the patios, landscaping, and several structures on the property.  I learned some great skills.  In summers in high school, I worked as a laborer for landscapers.  I spent  summers in high school and college mixing concrete and mortar, pushing 100’s of wheelbarrow loads of fresh concrete to a new patio or structure, then going back for more.  It was really hard work, but it was outside and probably one of the most fun jobs I’ve ever had.  I learned a huge amount about working and designing/building things.  I was always working on a deadline imposed by the materials.  If I missed the deadline or did the job poorly, the consequences and rework were even tougher than doing it right, efficiently, and on time.
  4. Retail Clerk in a Sporting Goods Store:  After school I’d ride my bike to a local sporting goods store.  I did a bunch of things, waited on customers, in the spring/summer I’d find myself stringing tennis rackets, in the winter I’d be mounting new bindings on skis or reconditioning, waxing, sharpening skiis.  Eventually, I moved to the main store in San Francisco and ended up driving a delivery truck around the city.  It was the first time I’d driven a manual transmission and I learned on the hills of San Francisco.
  5. Driveway Resurfacer:  Mid-way through college, my parents relocated to the Northeast.  That summer I didn’t know anyone or the area.  Early in the summer, my Dad took me into the garage one morning and showed me about 10 5 gallon drums of matierials to resurface the driveway, and a special brush to spread the material.  I spent about 5 hours doing our driveway (we had a very long driveway).  As I did it, I looked around the neighborhood and realized everyone would have to do this thankless task.  I went door to door selling my services.  Every morning I would do 1-2 driveways before it got too hot, after I’d finish, I’d go to the houses surroundng those I just completed to line up a few more jobs, them I’d go to the pool and spend a couple of hours “recovering.”  As tough and dirty as it was, it was hugely fun.  There is something about manual labor and these types of jobs where you can see what you’ve accomplished at the end of each day.
  6. Lab Assistant:  This was my first big “corporate job.”  It started as a summer job and grew.  I worked for one of the largest chemical companies in the world.  They had a research lab not far from where I lived.  Somehow I got hired to be a lab assistant.  I’d work with the product development teams developing new materials/compounds/applications.  Typically, they did the design of the experiments and I did the work and data collection.  Most of the time the research was in developing new compounds for plastics.  It was a great job, they thought enough of me to let me start designing some of my own experiments.  Eventually they offered me a job as a Researcher Assistant working at corporate HQ in Germany.  That’s how I got to Europe the first time.
  7. Director of Engineering and Product Development:  Sounds impressive doesn’t it, particularly for a senior in college.  But I also emptied trash cans and cleaned the kitchen.  This was actually the job that launched me into my business career.  I had met an inventor while skiing at Heavenly Valley.  We spent the day skiing together and talking about his inventions.  He wanted to “productize” them.  I’d given him a number of ideas and identified some problems.  Within the week, he called and offered me the part time job as Director of Engineering and Product Development.  I dove into the job, naive enough to think business success was simply about cool products.  We failed miserably, but I learned a lot.  The experience made me want to learn a lot more about business, ended up going to Graduate School for may MBA, had a variety of other jobs during those 2 years, then went on to selling mainframe computers for IBM in NYC after graduating.

Those were my first 7 jobs + jobs.  What were yours?

#firstsevenjobs

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