5 Lessons from My First Job

“It’s going to be hot,” the hiring manager said, testing if I would be willing to take the job.

I was already in hot water. Having just graduated from high school, I was on top of the world and looking forward to working in a marina for the summer on the shores of Lake Erie. College was slated for the fall, and my financial aid required my contribution for living expenses. Alas, the marina’s owner sold the marina in June along with my summer job and planned college expense income. I was feeling desperate.

“As long as I can sweat,” was my less than eloquent reply.

When my marina job was lost, my dad reached out to some of his contacts, including a large amusement park — Cedar Point — in Sandusky, Ohio. My first job was working in the food service area at a place called the Burger Patio, making burgers and fries. And it was hot!

In hindsight, Cedar Point was a great opportunity with 3000 seasonal staff, nearly all college students. It was a “real” business, where the orientation was the indoctrination. The items learned at Cedar Point were a great foundation for nearly any business, and are things people entering the workforce can use:

  • Values - In orientation, Cedar Point taught us to call employees associates and customers are referred to as guests. Cedar Point had four cornerstones arguably a solid foundation for any business:
+ Service
+ Safety
+ Courtesy
+ Cleanliness
  • Grooming - We were taught appearance standards useful in the business world. For men, hair couldn’t cover more than a third of the ear and couldn’t extend beyond the shirt collar. Sunglasses were discouraged as they covered the eyes and the eyes are part of your smile.
  • Work Ethic - We had a scheduled six-day workweek. You could work 70 or 80 hours a week regularly and more if desired. Cedar Point paid 25 cents an hour under the minimum wage, holding the 25 cents as a bonus paid completing your contract. It was an introduction to the importance of saving.
  • Work Hard, Play Hard – 3000 college students were unleased on Sandusky every night for pizza and other cheap eats. We always had to live within our means, as most of us had no credit card! Long hours also led to some fun (inappropriate) pranks in the park. For example, one guy placed 5 gallons of detergent in the intake of a water ride creating bubbles everywhere. He spent months planning the operation, including knowing when shifts changed on the ride and where park security would be stationed. Disruptive to the ride, certainly and clean fun — literally.
  • Pursue Promotion – In orientation, we were given a picture book of the executives including a director of the systems area. Many letters over a 2 year period had me “promoted” to the “3 until the work is completed” seasonal computer operator role, with the opportunity to leverage into a full career.

Now that I think about it, that first job taught me far more than I realized at the time. After Cedar Point, my career took me through many orientations at prestigious firms. The foundations from my first job at Cedar Point grounds me in my career, even today.

What was your first job? What was the best lesson you learned joining the workforce? Share your story on our Facebook page this week and be entered to win a $100 Visa gift card! 

Just starting out? You have an opportunity to make the most of your newfound earnings by taking advantage of a CU Thrive account, earning 3% APY* after one year! It’s kinda like getting that one-lump Cedar Point payment at the end of the summer. Learn more.


*APY = Annual Percentage Yield. No minimum balance requirements apply to this account. Rates for a CU Thrive Account are fixed for the full term (12 months) with a maximum contribution amount of $500 per month. You may schedule transfers up to $500.00 (minimum $5.00 ) each month from a Hanscom checking account. This account will not automatically renew at maturity. There can only be one CU Thrive account open per membership. Please refer to the Disclosure for Personal Accounts for more information. Early withdrawal penalties may apply to certificates. Fees may reduce the investment below the principal held at the beginning of the term. To get started click here, stop by any office or call our Member Services Department at 800-656-4328.


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Hanscom Federal Credit Union
Hanscom Federal Credit Union

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