Back in high school, I worked at my family’s bakery as a cashier. Every day that I came into work, I inevitably left with at least one story of a customer who tested my patience or gave me a hard time. I couldn’t stand having to hide my frustration behind a smile and act like I was in complete agreement. Nowadays, I have a research position within my university that requires that I find participants over the age of 55 to complete a study over a ten-day period – another job that requires good people skills.
These positions, understandably, can become tedious. Constantly setting aside your own thoughts and feelings to compromise with the customer can take a toll on you. However, it is important to realize that these seemingly irrelevant jobs can and will lead you to becoming a more successful and well-rounded person.
Every job requires some form of communication, between customers or coworkers. It is difficult to see the big picture when you’re dealing with an angry customer. However, it is important that you seek out small opportunities that will allow you to gain some experience in dealing with people before you enter the workforce. No matter how irrelevant the job may seem, understand that it is helping you in the long run and making you more prepared to face a career that is likely much more demanding and stressful.
Another benefit to having jobs in which your patience is tested is that it will give you good stories to tell. I have been asked in many interviews about times in my past jobs that have been a learning experience, or about a time when I was forced to think on my feet and take care of a difficult situation. In one of my interviews, I told a story about an experience at the bakery. After I finished, I laughed and said that she probably thought I sounded ridiculous telling a story about the picky customers in the bread store. She said that she completely understood because she used to work in the hotel business. The point is that you never know what sorts of doors your odd jobs will open up for you.
There are very few drawbacks to finding a customer service job before finishing your undergraduate degree. It is a source of income, it gives you experience and a talking point for interviews, and it prepares you to face the challenges that will be present in the workplace. The benefits are immense, and despite how irrelevant these odd jobs may seem, I promise, they are worth it in the end.