What’s the worst job you've ever had? What did it teach you?

1.2k views1 Upvote7 Comments

CISO in Software, 501 - 1,000 employees
It served a purpose at the time, but the worst job I had was as a receptionist in a 24-hour medical surgery when I was at university. I did the graveyard shift a couple of nights a week; we'd go into work at midnight and finish at 7 a.m. or 8 a.m. and I’d see a whole range of people in distress, people from many different walks of life. It was probably the worst job because it was quite intense, both due to it being night shift and the fact that you’d see a lot of people in need during those hours. But it taught me that we all come from different backgrounds, and that most accidents happen during nighttime, usually involving alcohol. That's a snapshot of what I saw there. 
CIO in Finance (non-banking), 51 - 200 employees
One of my first jobs was in the restaurant business; I was the busboy/dishwasher. This was a local towny restaurant, so we didn't have the fancy dishwashing machines that most restaurants have, where you just close the hatch and the hot water magically cleans the dishes. This was all done by hand, so it was a little gross. But at the same time it gave me a big appreciation for the workers in that field. It's true that how someone treats the wait staff is telling of what kind of person they are. So that job taught me to have empathy for folks in service, because those are tough jobs that no one wants to do.
Chief Information Officer in Software, 1,001 - 5,000 employees
One of the worst jobs I’ve had was when I was tutoring for math and biology. I hated that job. It’s one thing to teach older kids or people who are interested in the subject and know what they want, but it's such a different space when you’re teaching people who are only getting a tutor because their parents have the money and want them to get good grades. From coming in late to not even listening, I just didn't have the patience for any of that behavior. It gave me a new level of respect for teachers and tutors. Now I start off all my emails to my son's teachers with, “I truly appreciate what you guys do.” That job gave me a completely different lens. 
Chief Information Officer in Education, 5,001 - 10,000 employees
I liked all the jobs I've had as an adult but if I think further back, the worst job in my life was making pizzas. There was no way that I'd let anybody make my pizza. I would have to call in ahead of time, show up, make my pizza, put it through the oven, put it in the box, pay for it, and then take it home — that was the delivery part. So what I learned was that having an education can keep me away from doing this kind of work.
Director of IT in Software, 1,001 - 5,000 employees
The worst job I’ve had was when I went away to college and needed a job that would still allow me to go to school full time. I became a secret shopper, but it only lasted a month because that job was terrible. As part of the training, you had to try to steal something. The clerks were supposed to follow a specific process to make sure that they had caught things underneath your grocery cart. I'd have to put something there and my employer would say, "You have to walk out. Don't worry, they might try to tackle you, but we'll reimburse you." I didn't think I was going to get through that without sweating bullets, but I did not get caught. And I learned that I never want to go back into retail, not any aspect of it.
Chief Technology Officer in Software, 11 - 50 employees
I worked at a travellers hostel where I lived in Melbourne as a student. Instead of paying rent I would clean the whole hostel at 4 am in the morning. Kitchens, bathrooms and the living area were spotless by 530.

Being a budget accommodation, it drew a particular crowd ie drug addicts, those suffering mental illness and other outcasts.

I learnt 2 main things
- Whatever your work, take pride in it and do it to the best of your capability
- Even those in the worst circumstances can be wonderful people.

Although this was my worst job, these are also some of my most cherished memories.
Director of IT in Software, 201 - 500 employees
I worked in an open-pit mine during my last high school summer break before university. I maintained (oil change, lubricant, add gas, change filters etc.) heavy equipment (excavators, motor graders, bulldozers, mining crushers etc.).  We had 12 hours shift on 42C/107F, and it was very physically intensive work.

It taught me that I am not built for physical work, and I better get every degree and certification available to have an office job. It also taught me to have empathy and high respect for industrial workers/blue collars, seeing firsthand how they earn for leaving.

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