The world of work is a complex one, especially in the beginning.
I remember my first job – it was at the local toy store. I worked Friday night and Saturday mornings and my first pay check came in a little white envelope (I still have it) – $5.12 for seven hours work as a shop assistant. My first job taught me the value of money.
It’s fascinating really, a first job – whether good or ‘bad’ – may well determine how we view work in the future…
Recently we had an American intern with us as part of the Redii.com team. He wrote a fascinating overview of his time with us and it got me to thinking… your first job is kind of like your first kiss – always remembered. You want that to be a good memory – something that you think about with fondness.
Below are some excerpts of Dillon Bentlage’s university essay on his time far away from home in a foreign land – a massive first step into the world of work.
“I would not comfortably be able to make a sweeping generalization of all Australian workplaces after just 4 months of working in a single particular workforce. After listening to many of my peers’ experiences, it is clear that within any nation, workforce, people, and type of business will always play a role in how one perceives the workplace. That being said, the particular company that I have interned for which I outlined in my first essay, has been nothing short of a valuable experience that would not have been possible in the United States.
From my literal first steps into the office, I noticed lack of hierarchy, and an increase in community. Granted, this is a company that deals in employee engagement and recognition; however, back home there would rarely be an office that shared a single long table as a work station. Following this, I began to notice a decrease in formality; our office is comfortable with each other. These differences then amalgamated to create the largest advantage I have found in the Australian workplace; an increase in responsibility. I do not just run and get coffee and lunch.
At Redii.com, employees share a very close space; it’s a single long table. This is not meant as demotion of the company, but a compliment towards their ability to blur the lines between boss, manager, employee and intern. This has provided me with opportunities to understand all aspects of the company, and interact with all members of the company.
Once the communal space became routine, I began to notice new discrepancies directly linked to office community. Everyone at our office blends the barriers between friends and coworkers. Again, Redii specializes in creating an optimal workspace; therefore my analysis may be biased, but at my internship, work and fun are mixed to create a single fluorescent color. My day does consist of work, but my work is far more enjoyable and productive now that I work in a comfortable space with friendly, welcoming people.
When formality and community are abundantly present in an office, the sum of their combination leads to an increase in responsibility. In our office, the lines of rank are regularly crossed because of the mutual respect learned from our communal workspace. With less formality and more friendly workspace, I learned to respect others ideas, but also feel comfortable enough to comment on ideas and provide some of my own. This all led to a major increase in responsibility one that I could never have imagined. I was entrusted with researching, writing, directing, and editing a two minutes promotional video for my company. In any internship in the states, this is a level of responsibility I wouldn’t even dream of because of its outlandish nature. Yet, Redii has trusted me with this responsibility for which I can only feel gratitude.
An increase in trust provides an increase in aspiration to exceed expectation. If I were given traditional internship responsibilities, such as lunch, and coffee orders, my enthusiasm would dwindle; but Australia and Redii have provided me with a diametrically opposite experience. I could not have thought of a more productive way to spend my 4 months in Sydney.
Any experience is good experience, but great experience is memorable. Redii has not only provided me with experience and skills I would not have easily attained in the US, they have also shown me the practicality of my specific skills and interests. Redii is not a film company, writing team, or television network; they are a startup company. Yet despite this, they showed a young man with little to no experience that I am capable of doing great things if I try hard and my desire is strong enough. For Redii, the desire was strong enough; thanks guys.”
As employers, our role is to lead by example. Trust is the very premise of all relationships – and the first employment relationship is crucial. Leaders, please give your people a reason to trust.
Thank you Dillon, we thoroughly enjoyed having you at Redii.com – we wish you the best for your career.
Photo: Naomi Simson.
Naomi Simson is the founding director of Australian online tech success story RedBalloon and Redii. She has been blogging for a decade at NaomiSimson.com, is a professional speaker, author of Live What You Love & Ready To Soar, and is one of five “Sharks” on TEN’s business reality show Shark Tank. Join Naomi’s small business community which brings curious, like-minded people together.