Part 1 – Do The Hard Work
My professional journey has not been a straight path.
Whether I loved a job or not, each role helped mold me into who I am today.
One of those jobs was really valuable to me: the old jar factory.
As a junior in high school, I was looking for a job that would allow me to grow more independent from my parents and provide for myself. I was introduced to a position at an old jar factory where we packaged and shipped glass jars. It seemed like a good opportunity for me.
My full-day consisted of packing the jar in a box and setting it on a pallet. We would then wrap those pallets with plastic wrap and load it onto a truck.
That was my entire job.
In a large building with no A/C.
For 8-hours a day.
For 7 years.
I worked at the old jar factory for 7 years while completing high school and my Associate degree.
While this role may not sound like it would shape the professional I am today, it taught me three very important lessons:
- Strengthened Focus
Working in a jar factory (or any factory for that matter) is not easy. Sure, it is work that is general labor. If you had the ability to lift jars into boxes and package them, you could do well in the role. However, factory work can definitely wear on you after some time. Putting yourself in a tough situation allows you to humble yourself and gives you the opportunity to grow and become more resilient.
I knew that my time at the jar factory was only temporary which allowed me to focus on the future. My work there gave me the confidence I needed to work toward my future goals.
Even though this position could be considered monotonous work, you do need to have the ability to not let the repetitiveness or tedious process get in the way of doing a good job. If you can get past the same work every hour of every day, you could perform well in a role like this. That ability to strengthen my focus on the job at hand helped me in the future when I joined the military.
I knew I could do the work and do it well. It was the mental toughness that started in the jar factory which carried me through the hardship. Whether it was a physical task or needing to communicate with difficult people, the strength of my mental focus is what led me through those tough times.
During my time at the old jar factory, I was able to show my commitment to an organization. Commitment, in my opinion, allows you to build trust with your team and shows that you are
reliable. Even though commitment at work may be slightly different from any other commitment in your life such as commitment to your significant other or commitment to loved ones, there are many similarities. Similarities may include showing your trust in one another or demonstrating that you are there for them all the time. I could have easily given up and walked away from working in the factory, but I knew that I needed the money and I was there for a reason. Although my time at the old jar factory was not the most exciting work I’ve ever done, it helped build me into the worker I am today.
The lessons we learn in each role will vary and are difficult to call out in a resume beyond the hard skills like being thorough or paying attention to detail, the ability to work well with others, or patience and the ability to remain calm in stressful situations. These are all skills I learned at the jar factory. The ability to take the time spent in each role and learn something useful and beneficial for the next step in your career makes the time spent more meaningful. I never plan on going back to working in a factory, but I am thankful for my time spent there. I am grateful for each lesson I learned during that time. In my current role, I rely on and continue to build upon these skills every day: Resiliency, Strengthened Focus, and Commitment.