No one likes to go to work. At best, it’s not that bad, but I’d rather be doing something else. I also don’t like living in a van down by the river, and I spent all this time and money on fancy degrees that no one cares about, so working is the way to go to avoid abject poverty.
I remember getting my first adult job like it was yesterday. I had interviewed for a position I figured I was way out of the running for because I didn’t know anyone there. It was summer time, and I was sitting on a boogie board in the sand at Ocean City, MD. I got a call from a familiar area code but didn’t know the number. After getting the dreaded voicemail, I listened and realized that the first ten to twenty candidates must not have taken the job and that they wanted me to come work for them. Later that night, I got hammered, found a horseshoe crab at 3 a.m. on my way back to the hotel and drove back home the next morning to start my job journey.
Starting your first job, hell any new job, is like being a kid again on the first day of school. There are all sorts of orientations, meetings, on-boarding and whatnot. After jumping through all the necessary hoops, I finally got to actually be part of the team, have real meetings with my bosses and begin to put my years of learning into practice.
What I was not prepared for was the level of knowledge, eagerness to teach and professionalism that my supervisors had. I’ve heard the horror stories about having a horrible boss. I’ve had my fair share of bad bosses. At my job through high school and college at a golf course, my boss pushed me into a wall and we had to be separated over something stupid (in this case it was his friend’s kid doing a poor job on the range). He was a little guy, and although I’m not a tall person myself, beating up my pre-diabetic Napoleon complexed boss that was basically Moe Szyslak wasn’t really worth it.
Having a great boss can make or break a job. From the time I started, I knew this would be special. I had two people I directly reported to. The environment was relaxed, everyone worked together and the communication was open. We openly shared ideas and would have others proofread and critique each other’s work. We were all in it together, so why not work together? In the past, I’ve often had the opposite experience where people did not want to work together, nor were there open channels for communication. Sadly, within the first two months of my job, my dad died. My boss, knowing I didn’t have the PTO and I had just started, “forgot” to tell HR so I could take more than a week off to focus on my family. It’s the little things that make your employees willing to run through a wall for you.
It’s not just the kindness or humanity. My bosses were experts in their field. Having a boss that is ready, willing and able to teach and mold was amazing. The skills I learned at that job still pay dividends to this day. There was never a fear of making a mistake as they were few and far between, and if there was a mistake, there was never any yelling or disrespect. Only polite professional constructive criticism.
The only negative from the entire time working was that I knew it ruined every job I’d have in the future. Knowing that I will never have a job that was as enjoyable as my old job kinda messes with my head. When you work in healthcare and education, you have to accept that your job might come onto the chopping block when budget cuts come. Many of my former coworkers (including one of my bosses) had to find new jobs, and while I found a new one with a great (interim) boss, my current situation is lightyears away from my previous position.
Having bosses who were willing to show me the ropes made my first place of employment quite enjoyable, at least from a working perspective. No one really LIKES to work, but I miss the days where the worst part of my job was driving to the office. Having people who you respect both as humans and as a supervisors can make an otherwise boring or unfulfilling job something that is more than the sum of its parts. We did a lot of great things around the state, improved and enriched the lives of countless people and steered the healthcare and education in ways that no one else could. An apathetic or lazy boss could have kept the status quo, but I learned to not be complacent and demand the most from everyone involved. I could not be prouder to call my boss a mentor, colleague and friend..
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