Every year we attend Seattle Chamber of Commerce’s annual Regional Leadership Conference – this year the Chamber focused on the concept of talent (and how to cultivate it and retain it). The conference brought together business, government and community leaders to discuss topics like apprenticeships, changes to K-12 education, job-skills training and the best ways to fill open positions right here in our region. A few days before the conference, the Chamber posted a series entitled #MyFirstJob, featuring local business leaders sharing memories of their first jobs. We came back inspired and invigorated and developed our own #MyFirstJob series. Read on to learn where Nyhus members got their start and what they’ve carried with them in their professional careers.
Mike: “Growing up in the Spokane Valley, there were two employment options for a 16-year-old with no experience: flip burgers or fold clothes. I applied for both, but ended up at Dairy Queen. What I loved about that job was the direct control we had over a person’s experience. Most burger joints are filling the need of “I didn’t make dinner and I have to feed my kids” but at DQ, we had “treats” covered too. By being friendly, careful with their order and quick, their trip to DQ could end up being the best part of their day. The experience also taught me how critical it is to get along with your coworkers and have fun, and to accept a variety of work styles and the personality quirks that come with any team.”
Ioanna: “I grew up in a restaurant so of course, my first job would be working in restaurants. As little kids (and I’m talking little), my parents would make us sit and fold napkins to keep us busy or peel potatoes in the kitchen. Later as we grew and had able arms and legs, we bussed tables, seated people, folded napkins and manned the till- all the glamorous things that a pre-teen can do in a restaurant. All this set the groundwork for the work ethic I have now and realized how even the most basic role is important in every organization. Be generous to those who are still learning or are more junior than you because without those little tasks, there wouldn’t be clean tables or glasses to serve, no napkins to put out, no change to give. The experience taught me to never expect someone else to do my job and that’s one of the most important skills I’ve brought with me in my life and to Nyhus.”
Jane: “My first job was at the Seattle P-I in 1972. I was about to become a high school senior when I became Administrative Assistant to the group of editors in what was called the Northwest Wing. I wrote the daily television highlights and the highlights for the weekly TV booklet that arrived with the Sunday paper. My adult colleagues encouraged me to go to journalism school. I chose the University of Oregon and returned to the P-I after college for my first reporting job, filling in for vacationing reporters in the summer of 1978. I left the P-I for two subsequent reporting jobs before leaving the working press for a public relations job at Bellevue (Community) College. I took one more PR job before leaving career work to raise my baby. Now, as an administrative assistant to a PR firm, it seems as if I’ve come full circle.”
Heidi: “My first job was delivering the afternoon Spokane Chronicle on my bike in the Spokane Valley. I was 13. In those days, we had to go door to door to collect fees from subscribers, which turned out to be such a pain that I just didn’t collect from the difficult ones. So I didn’t make much money. The next job – the one with a full-on W-4 form – was de-tassling corn with other teenagers at age 14 in the fields of central Illinois. That was tough work, too, but the paycheck came in the mail! Both of these jobs offered lasting life lessons in perseverance, hard work, and – in the case of the corn fields – the value and joy of working with a team. They paved the way for a wide range of other jobs in the decades that followed, and certainly helped shape the person I am today.”