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By Lisa Osiako

What do you remember from your first job? Was it an experience that gave you lessons? Is it something that you enjoyed? This week, I spoke to various professionals on lessons they gathered from their first jobs. Here is what each of them had to say:

Peter = I Didn’t Have ‘Papers’

As soon as I finished high school, I started looking for a job. A friend asked if I wanted a job. That marked the beginning of my career journey. I became a messenger at her graphic design office. I soon developed an interest in what she was doing and with time, she taught me the different applications used such as Adobe Illustrator, InDesign, and Photoshop. I worked there for a year, and by the time I was leaving, I had helped with the layout design of class 7 and 8 CRE textbook, Living In Christ.

Lessons: I learnt that skills are more important than education. I have not gone to college yet, but what I have gathered in my career journey so far has put me in a better place today. However, nothing can negate good education –and not having my papers has locked me out of several positions.

Also, you’re responsible for your own career. Give yourself the best, and show grit: Never give up. Know your capabilities, and what you can offer a company.

Juliet – I Learnt the Importance Of Great Customer Service

My first job was as a customer service representative at a Pay TV brand. My job here was basically to help customers and inform them of any promotion that we were carrying out. I remember during my first week, I was informing a premium subscriber about a promotion we were running to which he shot back saying I was a con person. He asked something about the company to which I replied that I did not know. He disconnected the call.

This experience taught me to be bold and not tell a client that I do not know as this only aggravates them more and at the same time, made me seem incompetent. Instead, I learnt to reassure a client that I will find out and get back to them. This lesson remains relevant even in my current job.

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Brenda – Volunteering Got Me An NGO Job

I had been a member of Red Cross throughout University so when I was about to graduate I decided to volunteer at the organization as a project assistant. My job entailed counselling women living with HIV.

I was a volunteer for about five months and then I saw they had advertised for the same position and I applied.

I think I got the job not only because I was already a volunteer at the organization but because I was also working on the same project.

That means I had knowledge and experience doing what they wanted the person to do. If I didn’t have the volunteering experience I don’t think I would have gotten the job.

Lessons: You never get to learn unless you experience something. I got this job after volunteering. It would have been very difficult for me to get the job if I was not already a volunteer at Red Cross. So if you want to work, you should start by getting a volunteer position.

You also need to be patient because it took months for me to get the volunteer position but I did not give up.

Remember that you are competing with people who are just as qualified as you are and because you don’t have a lot of experience you should ensure your CV and Cover Letter show you are a good candidate.

Prisca – I Learnt Time Management

I was 22 years old when I got my first job as a transcriber. The job involved converting English audio into written text. We were reporting to work at 6 am and would leave any time after 3 pm, provided you had finished your given task.

Lessons: The biggest lesson I learnt was time management, as this would enable me to plan for my task and have it done in good time. I also learnt to work smart and not hard, especially because the pay we would get was dependent on how good your work was.

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Cynthia – From An Intern To A Full Time Employee

My first job was at a travel agency. I started out as an intern and once I cleared campus, was taken in full-time. I set up the Customer Service department within the organization, something that was new in the company.

Lessons: I learnt how to deal with different clients as I was interacting with clients on a daily basis. Also, I learnt how to relate with different colleagues, and listen more.

Working as an unpaid intern eventually paid off when I was offered a job on a full-time basis.

Can you remember your first job, how was the experience?