Monday, January 24, 2011


My hats off to Lindy Keffer who is our FLI Internship Coordinator for sparking the ideas below... she spent some time with the students today explaining what her past jobs were and what she learned from them - in hopes that they would use the internship as a truly educational experience. That got me thinking about my past jobs...

Cook/Busboy - Sirloin Stockade Steakhouse

What did I learn? That people can be picky and rude and to live out "the customer is always right" was really hard some days. Also I learned that there are jobs that are dirty, disgusting, have to be done and have to be done every day. I used to not entirely understand why I had to clean the grill every night when it was going to be fired back up in less than six hours for the breakfast shift. I ultimately learned an appreciation for people in the food service industry and how hard the work is.

Retail Sales - Montgomery Ward (are they still around?); Dillards

What did learn? Same principle of the customer always being right was reiterated. Additionally I learned that there are times you don't say what is on your mind - even if it makes total sense in your head. When Wards would switch over its garden center to toys for Christmas, I usually got extended hours helping folks pick out toys for their little ones. One of the little guys took off around the entire store in one of the Big Wheels that had a clicker on the wheel. He was screaming as he went. The grandmother pondered what to get a five year old for Christmas? My response, "That five year old? Get him a cage!" I had a pretty severe talking to by the store manager after that, even though he agreed with the sentiment, it just wasn't what one said. I also learned about being a customer and hopefully don't treat the people on the other side of the register the way I see some people treating sales people.

Secretary - University of Arkansas

I spent a short stint working in the Student Services department and supporting a couple friends of mine in their work with Student Government. What did I learn? I learned that detail matters. When typing up minutes from meetings it was always good to get it right and to just report the facts, not people's opinions about the work they were doing. I also learned not to accept calls from those running for political office that you happen to volunteering for. Local reporters eat that stuff up. I also learned a life long appreciation for the folks that do this work for me now. It shouldn't be one day a year we appreciate them either -

Radio - Disc Jockey

When they had disc jockey positions still... What did I learn? I learned the value of working your way up the ladder. Very seldom does someone in media start with the prime slots. I went from being a part time fill in on the weekends, to regular part time, to overnights, to day shifts. I also learned the politics of organizations when I got fired by a program director who needed a job for his buddy coming back from the Navy. It was cool that I got hired by one of the competition within a day! I also learned that you can have a lot of fun with a job. Playing the music you like (and some that you don't like) talking with listeners, etc. - just fun. Pay is nothing, but it was fun.

Teacher - Univ. of Arkansas; Univ. of Oklahoma; Wichita State Univ.; Huntington College; Focus Leadership Institute and various shorter stints with churches, colleges and international ministries...

What did I learn (or am I learning)? I have learned that it is important to find the thing that makes you come alive and do it. When I stand in front of the classroom, I am so energized. The venue becomes unimportant as long as I am teaching. My encouragement for you; think long and hard about what you are doing when you feel the most alive and figure out a way to do it. You may need credentials. You may need guidance from others. You may need opportunities. Move toward it, whatever it is.

Happy Day!



Unknown said...

That is how I feel when i teach too. I partially blame you! And I mean that as a compliment. - Anthony Martin

JD Mast said...

Yes seven years at Dillard's working in retail taught me valuable and humbling lessons. To this day I try to be thoughtful when in a public restroom. I don't leave paper towels laying on the floor, I wipe down the counter when I leave etc. Trust me after you have cleaned up department store bathrooms you learn there is always someone "behind" that mess.

We should have been issued haz mat suits for a few of the emergency calls. God expects us to treat others with respect even if they are never seen or we know who they are. Sadly this seems to be going away more and more in our society.

Thanks for the thoughts today.